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From Latin criticus +‎ -al, from Ancient Greek κριτικός (kritikós, of or for judging, able to discern), from κρίνω (krínō, I separate, judge); also the root of crisis.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɹɪ.tɪ.kəl/, /ˈkɹɪ.tə.kəl/
  • (file)


critical (comparative more critical, superlative most critical)

  1. Inclined to find fault or criticize.
    Synonyms: fastidious, captious, censorious, exacting
    A good teacher is fair but critical.
  2. Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis or turning point.
    This is a critical moment.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619:
      Such a scandal as the prosecution of a brother for forgery—with a verdict of guilty—is a most truly horrible, deplorable, fatal thing. It takes the respectability out of a family perhaps at a critical moment, when the family is just assuming the robes of respectability: [] it is a black spot which all the soaps ever advertised could never wash off.
  3. Extremely important.
    Synonyms: crucial, imperative
    It's critical that you deliver this on time.
  4. Relating to criticism or careful analysis, such as literary or film criticism.
    The movie was a critical success, but bombed at the box-office.
    • 2012 April 19, Alexandra Sifferlin, “‘Healthy’ Foods that Really Aren’t: Nutritionists Weigh In”, in Time[1]:
      “Unless you are purchasing cereal from a health food store, many brands that are marketed as healthy are usually full of sugar and processed ingredients,” says Garcia.
      So when you’re choosing cereal, bread or any other whole-grain product, Garcia recommends reading labels with a critical eye.
  5. (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.
    Coordinate terms: fair, serious, stable
    The patient's condition is critical.
  6. Likely to go out of control if disturbed, that is, opposite of stable.
    The political situation was so critical that the government declared the state of siege.
  7. (physics) Of the point (in temperature, reagent concentration etc.) where a nuclear or chemical reaction becomes self-sustaining.
    The reaction was about to become critical.
  8. (physics) Of a temperature that is equal to the temperature of the critical point of a substance, i.e. the temperature above which the substance cannot be liquefied.

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


critical (plural criticals)

  1. A critical value, factor, etc.
    • 1976, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Journal of engineering for industry, volume 98, page 508:
      The second undamped system criticals show a greater percentage depression than the first.
    • 2008, John J. Coyle, C. John Langley, Brian Gibson, Supply Chain Management: A Logistics Perspective (page 564)
      Finally, criticals are high-risk, high-value items that give the final product a competitive advantage in the marketplace [] Criticals, in part, determine the customer's ultimate cost of using the finished product — in our example, the computer.
  2. In breakdancing, a kind of airflare move in which the dancer hops from one hand to the other.

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