critical

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkri-ti-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

Definition of critical

1a : 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 proposal
d : including variant readings and scholarly emendations a critical edition
2a : 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 temperature
b : indispensable, vital a critical waterfowl habitat a component critical to the operation of a machine
c : being in or approaching a state of crisis a critical shortage a critical situation
d : crucial, decisive a critical test
3a : of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction used of a mass of fissionable material a critical mass
b : sustaining a nuclear chain reaction The reactor went critical.

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Other Words from critical

criticality \ ˌkri-​tə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce criticality (audio) \ noun
critically \ ˈkri-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce critically (audio) \ adverb
criticalness \ ˈkri-​ti-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce criticalness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for critical

critical, hypercritical, faultfinding, captious, carping, censorious mean inclined to look for and point out faults and defects. critical may also imply an effort to see a thing clearly and truly in order to judge it fairly. a critical essay hypercritical suggests a tendency to judge by unreasonably strict standards. hypercritical disparagement of other people's work faultfinding implies a querulous or exacting temperament. a faultfinding reviewer captious suggests a readiness to detect trivial faults or raise objections on trivial grounds. a captious critic carping implies an ill-natured or perverse picking of flaws. a carping editorial censorious implies a disposition to be severely critical and condemnatory. the censorious tone of the review

synonyms see in addition acute

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

He is credited with 13 US Patents; many still in use today; that are critical to aircraft flight. courant.com, "Louis A. Urban Sr.," 6 June 2019 Cousins’ availability is increasingly critical as Golden State searches for room on its training tables. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "How DeMarcus Cousins Helped Flip the NBA Finals," 5 June 2019 Republican lawmakers were also critical of Tlaib for comments about the Holocaust. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "Rep. Rashida Tlaib tears up while reading death threat at white supremacy hearing," 5 June 2019 This week will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, or the invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6 — which has been described as the most critical moment in America’s efforts to help liberate Western Europe from the Axis powers during World War II. Gillian Telling, PEOPLE.com, "For D-Day's 75th Anniversary, Listen to Unread Letters from Soldiers on the Ground," 4 June 2019 This educational component, which is so critical to physical therapy, can help promote the best environment to heal while teaching you ways to avoid injury and pain in the future. SELF, "How to Know When You Should See a Physical Therapist," 1 June 2019 Intel will perform its own verifications at the Athena Labs facilities, including performance checks and power checks that are critical to the Athena experience. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Here's what's inside Intel's boundary-pushing 'Project Athena' laptops—and why," 29 May 2019 There are many steps that go into creating a successful garden, but none is as critical as establishing and maintaining healthy, nutrient-rich soil. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Make Compost," 4 Jan. 2019 In tonight’s episode, Ethel also has a seizure at a critical moment. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "What The Hell Is Going on With the Cult on Riverdale?," 18 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of critical

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for 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) + -al entry 1; in sense "inclined to criticize, involving criticism," from critic entry 1 + -al entry 1 — more at critic entry 1

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Statistics for critical

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for critical

The first known use of critical was in 1547

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More Definitions for critical

critical

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of critical

: 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

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkri-ti-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

Kids Definition of critical

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.

Other Words from critical

critically adverb

critical

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkrit-i-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

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 fever
b : 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 material
b : sustaining a chain reaction used of a nuclear reactor

Other Words from critical

critically \ -​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce critically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on critical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for critical

Spanish Central: Translation of critical

Nglish: Translation of critical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of critical for Arabic Speakers

Comments on critical

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