Definition of critical
1a : of, relating to, or being a turning point or specially important juncture a critical phase: such as (1) : relating to or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be expected; also : being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger of death critical care a patient listed in critical condition (2) : relating to or being a state in which or a measurement or point at which some quality, property, or phenomenon suffers a definite change critical temperatureb : crucial, decisive a critical testc : indispensable, vital a critical waterfowl habitat a component critical to the operation of a machined : being in or approaching a state of crisis a critical shortage a critical situation
2a : inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably His critical temperament cost him several friends.b : consisting of or involving criticism critical writings; also : of or relating to the judgment of critics The play was a critical success.c : exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation critical thinking a critical commentary on the mayor's proposald : including variant readings and scholarly emendations a critical edition
3a : of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction —used of a mass of fissionable material a critical massb : sustaining a nuclear chain reaction The reactor went critical.
criticalityplay \ˌkri-tə-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
criticallyplay \ˈkri-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
criticalnessplay \ˈkri-ti-kəl-nəs\ noun
Examples of critical in a Sentence
The program presents a critical analysis of the government's strategies.
She has a talent for critical thinking.
We need to look at these proposed changes with a critical eye before we accept them.
Recent Examples of critical from the Web
Told at the hospital that Devani was in critical condition, the woman immediately asked if the girl could talk, police said.
If a community is willing to be critical of itself, it’s actually much stronger and much more likely to survive than a community that is scared of looking at itself with two eyes open.
Storage costs, a critical component of renewable energy systems, have also fallen.
In addition, state Sen. Trip Pittman -- who is the lone coastal Alabama Republican running in this year's special Senate election - is critical of the limited fishing dates.
State prisons in Florida are dangerously understaffed and often operate at critical capacity — meaning there are times when the prisons have only the bare minimum number of guards.
A hospital official said Monday that 20-year-old Fryeburg Officer Nathan Desjardins remained in critical condition at a Lewiston hospital following the Saturday afternoon crash.
Kelly said that if such a line of communication was set up, the critical thing would have been for Kushner and other transition officials to understand that the information provided by the Russians might be intentionally false.
Yet in other respects, the plan is conceptually timid, doing little to broach the critical issue of how Union Station should signal its new identity to passers-by.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'critical'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of critical
in sense “being at a turning point,” from 16th-17th century cretike, criticke “at a turning point” (Middle English cretic, borrowed from Late Latin criticus “at a turning point, decisive,” borrowed from Greek kritikós, taken as derivative of krísis crisis, replacing earlier krísimos) + 1-al; in sense “inclined to criticize, involving criticism,” from 1critic + 1-al — more at 1critic
First Known Use: 1547See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of critical
synonyms see in addition acute
CRITICAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of critical for English Language Learners
: expressing criticism or disapproval
: of or relating to the judgments of critics about books, movies, art, etc.
: using or involving careful judgment about the good and bad parts of something
CRITICAL Defined for Kids
Definition of critical for Students
1 : likely or eager to find fault
2 : consisting of or involving judgment of value, worth, beauty, or quality critical writings
3 : using or involving careful judgment a critical examination of a patient
4 : extremely important It is critical that you follow the instructions exactly.
Word Root of critical
The Greek word kritikos, meaning “able to judge,” gives us the root critic. Words from the Greek kritikos have something to do with judging. A critic is someone who judges the value or quality or something, such as a movie or book. Someone critical makes a lot of judgments and usually decides that things are not good. To criticize is to make a judgment that something is not good.
Medical Definition of critical
1a: relating to, indicating, or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be anticipated with reasonable certainty the critical phase of a feverb: being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger of death critical care a critical head injury
2a: of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction—used of a mass of fissionable materialb: sustaining a chain reaction—used of a nuclear reactor
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up critical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).