Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Judging severely and finding fault.
  • adjective Relating to or characterized by criticism; reflecting careful analysis and judgment.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or characteristic of critics.
  • adjective Including scholarly commentary and interpretation.
  • adjective Forming or having the nature of a turning point; crucial or decisive: synonym: decisive.
  • adjective Medicine Being or relating to a grave physical condition, especially of a patient.
  • adjective Being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency.
  • adjective Extremely important or essential: synonym: indispensable.
  • adjective Mathematics Of or relating to a point at which a curve has a horizontal tangent line, as at a maximum or minimum.
  • adjective 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.
  • adjective Physics Capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Qualified to criticise, or pass judgment upon, literary or artistic productions.
  • adjective Pertaining to criticism or the critic's art; of the nature of a criticism; accurate.
  • adjective Inclined to make nice distinctions, or to exercise careful judgment and selection; exact; nicely judicious.
  • adjective Inclined to criticise or find fault; fastidious; captious; censorious; exacting.
  • adjective Characterized by thoroughness and a reference to principles, as becomes a critic.
  • adjective Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis, turning point, or specially important juncture; important as regards consequences; hence, of doubtful issue; attended with risk; dangerous.
  • adjective (Optics) that angle of incidence of a luminous ray at which it is wholly reflected, and no portion of it transmitted. The sine of this angle is the reciprocal of the refractive index of the medium.
  • adjective the metaphysical system of Kant; -- so called from his most important work, the “Critique of Pure Reason.”

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Inclined to find fault or criticize; fastidious; captious; censorious; exacting.
  • adjective Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis or turning point.
  • adjective Extremely important.
  • adjective Relating to criticism or careful analysis, such as literary or film criticism.
  • adjective medicine 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.
  • adjective Likely to go out of control if disturbed, that is, opposite of stable.
  • adjective Of the point (in temperature, reagent concentration etc.) where a nuclear or chemical reaction becomes self-sustaining.
  • noun A critical value, factor, etc.

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

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

Etymologies

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).

Support

Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word critical.

Examples

  • [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

  • 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.

    I’m not a pacifist but …

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    SeekingAlpha.com: 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.

    SeekingAlpha.com: 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.

    SeekingAlpha.com: Home Page

  • 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.

    SeekingAlpha.com: Home Page

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A contranym: can mean "vital to success" (a critical component), or "disparaging" (a critical comment). (Wikipedia)

    June 6, 2008

  • Liberation. Social Contructionism. PoMo? Pedagogy? Help!!

    June 28, 2008