from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Inclined to judge severely and find fault.
  • adj. Characterized by careful, exact evaluation and judgment: a critical reading.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or characteristic of critics or criticism: critical acclaim; a critical analysis of Melville's writings.
  • adj. Forming or having the nature of a turning point; crucial or decisive: a critical point in the campaign.
  • adj. Of or relating to a medical crisis: an illness at the critical stage.
  • adj. Being or relating to a grave physical condition especially of a patient.
  • adj. Indispensable; essential: a critical element of the plan; a second income that is critical to the family's well-being.
  • adj. Being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency: a critical shortage of food.
  • adj. Fraught with danger or risk; perilous.
  • adj. Mathematics Of or relating to a point at which a curve has a horizontal tangent line, as at a maximum or minimum.
  • adj. Chemistry & Physics Of or relating to the value of a measurement, such as temperature, at which an abrupt change in a quality, property, or state occurs: A critical temperature of water is 100°C, its boiling point at standard atmospheric pressure.
  • adj. Physics Capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Inclined to find fault or criticize; fastidious; captious; censorious; exacting.
  • adj. Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis or turning point.
  • adj. Extremely important.
  • adj. Relating to criticism or careful analysis, such as literary or film criticism.
  • adj. Of a patient condition involving unstable vital signs and a prognosis that predicts the condition could worsen; or, a patient condition that requires urgent treatment in an intensive care or critical care medical facility.
  • adj. Likely to go out of control if disturbed, that is, opposite of stable.
  • adj. Of the point (in temperature, reagent concentration etc.) where a nuclear or chemical reaction becomes self-sustaining.
  • n. A critical value, factor, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Qualified to criticise, or pass judgment upon, literary or artistic productions.
  • adj. Pertaining to criticism or the critic's art; of the nature of a criticism; accurate.
  • adj. Inclined to make nice distinctions, or to exercise careful judgment and selection; exact; nicely judicious.
  • adj. Inclined to criticise or find fault; fastidious; captious; censorious; exacting.
  • adj. Characterized by thoroughness and a reference to principles, as becomes a critic.
  • adj. Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis, turning point, or specially important juncture; important as regards consequences; hence, of doubtful issue; attended with risk; dangerous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Involving judgment as to the truth or merit of something; judicial, especially in respect to literary or artistic works; belonging to the art of a critic; relating to criticism; exercised in criticism.
  • Having the knowledge, ability, or discernment to pass accurate judgment, especially upon literary and artistic matters.
  • Inclined to make nice distinctions; careful in selection; nicely judicious; exact; fastidious; precise.
  • Inclined to find fault or to judge with severity; given to censuring.
  • Of the nature of a crisis in affairs; decisive; important as regards consequences: as, a critical juncture.
  • In medicine, pertaining to the crisis or turning-point of a disease.
  • Formed, situated, or tending to determine or decide; important or essential for determining: as, critical evidence; a critical post.
  • Being in a condition of extreme doubt or danger; attended with peril or risk; dangerous; hazardous: as, a critical undertaking.
  • In mathematics, relating to the coalescence of different values.
  • Distinguished by minute or obscure differences: as, critical species in botany.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. forming or having the nature of a turning point or crisis
  • adj. of or involving or characteristic of critics or criticism
  • adj. urgently needed; absolutely necessary
  • adj. at or of a point at which a property or phenomenon suffers an abrupt change especially having enough mass to sustain a chain reaction
  • adj. being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency
  • adj. marked by a tendency to find and call attention to errors and flaws
  • adj. characterized by careful evaluation and judgment


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the suffix -al and Latin criticus, from Ancient Greek κριτικός (kritikos, "of or for judging, able to discern") < κρίνω (krinō, "I separate, judge"), also the root of crisis).


  • [Warburton explained this as "the critical juncture"] How the _critical juncture_ is the _spy o 'the time_ I know not, but I think my own conjecture right.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies

  • I am assumming it was the editors here that decided the term critical should be used in the title.

    Clock Ticking for Shuttle Atlantis on Critical Resupply Mission | Universe Today

  • Those who do not, are generally subjects who source their information about the world from heavily censored publications and broadcast media, and may never have heard the term critical thinking.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • Although I've used the term critical thinking, I have done so without defining it.

    9/11 And American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, A Review

  • ‡ The term critical mass is used to refer generally to the minimum amount of something needed to produce a given effect: “The town needs a critical mass of industry to attract more business.

    critical mass

  • Thus, (and very casually for all you physicists) we refer to something being in a critical state (or use the term critical mass) when there is the opportunity for significant change. Home Page

  • The term critical state can mean the point at which water would go to ice or steam, or the moment that critical mass induces a nuclear reaction, etc. Home Page

  • The term "speculative" has connotations not of making claims without support, but rather is to be opposed to the term critical, where critical is to be understood in its precise philosophical sense of any philosophy that holds that all philosophical questions are to be posed in terms of our epistemological access to entities such that ultimately all philosophical questions reduce to epistemological questions.

    Larval Subjects .

  • The private sector operates roughly 85 percent of what we term critical infrastructure, but as our current economic difficulties illustrate, companies and markets are hardly infallible.

    Center for American Progress

  • He said he was still looking into the details of the workouts but said they were no different than those from previous years during what he called a critical seven-week stretch of training.

    College Football Players Complained Of Brutal Workouts Before Mass Hospitalization


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