Definition of critical in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkrɪtɪk(ə)l/


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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: crit|ic¦al

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.