Share this entry
critical Line breaks: crit|ic¦al
Pronunciation: /ˈkrɪtɪk(ə)l/

Definition of critical in English:


1Expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgements: I was very critical of the previous regime
More example sentences
  • The report is also critical of road safety education because of its lack of prominence, vagueness and poor training for teachers.
  • Children with low self-esteem tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves.
  • Inman is highly critical of industry sponsored safety studies, which he regards as marketing exercises.
2Expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art: she never won the critical acclaim she sought
More example sentences
  • Set up a year ago by Martin Wheeler, 33, Iwari and its artists have sparked critical acclaim in the music press.
  • His recent CD recording of Liszt's piano music received critical acclaim.
  • It was released in July 2001 to critical acclaim.
2.1(Of a text) incorporating a detailed and scholarly analysis and commentary: a critical edition of a Bach sonata
More example sentences
  • Translations of major texts are borrowed from current scholarly editions, while English texts are based on critical editions.
  • Since Q2 represents the text closest to the author's manuscript it might be chosen as the copy text for a critical edition.
  • Entire pages of these two critical texts are presented in her book, bilingual explanations on the left-hand side, graphic images on the right.
2.2Involving the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement: professors often find it difficult to encourage critical thinking amongst their students
More example sentences
  • Gavin sits on a Masters Degree Visual Arts Practises course with me where we have seen critical judgment voided by curatorial organisational skills.
  • The book is divided into two parts: a 35-page critical essay followed by drawings grouped according to theme.
  • The investigations, however, were not only celebratory; various critical examinations of the institution of cinema also emerged.
3(Of a situation or problem) having the potential to become disastrous; at a point of crisis: the floodwaters had not receded and the situation was still critical
More example sentences
  • We have a potentially critical situation here.
  • It puts us in a difficult and critical situation.
  • None of these problems is critical, but they all act to inhibit the process of renewing Australia's economic infrastructure.
life-and-death, life-threatening
informal chancy, dicey, hairy, iffy
British informal dodgy
archaic or , humorous parlous
Medicine  peracute, profound
rare egregious
3.1Extremely ill and at risk of death: she was critical but stable in Middlesbrough General Hospital
More example sentences
  • Following the accident, he was rushed to hospital in critical condition with a severe head injury and underwent brain surgery the very next day.
  • As of Wednesday afternoon at least two workers remained in critical condition from severe burns and six others were listed in serious condition.
  • It said nine of those injured were in critical condition, suggesting that the death toll might rise.
3.2Having a decisive or crucial importance in the success, failure, or existence of something: temperature is a critical factor in successful fruit storage getting banks lending again was critical to any recovery [in combination]: time-critical tasks
More example sentences
  • But do they represent a critical factor in the success or failure of a business?
  • This gives them the right to take decisions of critical importance, having gained two thirds of the stake in the holding.
  • This completely fails to recognise the critical importance that success in business has in funding our aspirations for the public services.
crucial, vital, essential, of the essence, all-important, important, of the utmost importance, of great consequence, high-priority, paramount, pre-eminent, fundamental, key, pivotal, deciding, decisive, climacteric, momentous;
4 Mathematics & Physics Relating to or denoting a point of transition from one state to another: if the density is less than a certain critical value the gravitational attraction will be too weak to halt the expansion
More example sentences
  • When the fraction is close to the critical value, computation times become very large.
  • On the other hand, if the frequency exceeded a certain critical value, there would be enough energy for the electron to be able to get away.
  • Similarly, superconductivity can be destroyed by applying a magnetic field that exceeds some critical value.
5(Of a nuclear reactor or fuel) maintaining a self-sustaining chain reaction: the reactor is due to go critical in October


Pronunciation: /ˌkrɪtɪˈkalɪti/
sense 3, sense 4.
Example sentences
  • To make an analogy; in any situation, if criticality in stability is seen, the unstable mass must be contained and/or isolated, in order to minimise any possible ensuing collateral damage.
  • The authors have developed a matrix on which a company can plot its functions on the X-axis according to their criticality and its capabilities on the Y-axis.
  • On their part, the employees understood the criticality of the situation.
Example sentences
  • The issue of distortion or bias in social cognition is difficult to address with the present data, as the ratings of attentiveness, criticalness, and admiration are inherently subjective.
  • You should not let your father's or mother's negativity, depression and criticalness be contagious.
  • This anchoring reinforced that the criticalness was about Susan, not her.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'relating to the crisis of a disease'): from late Latin criticus (see critic).

Words that rhyme with critical

analytical, apolitical, cryptanalytical, diacritical, eremitical, geopolitical, hypercritical, hypocritical, political, socio-political, subcritical
Definition of critical in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources