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CRITICAL

Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does critical mean? 

CRITICAL (adjective)
  The adjective CRITICAL has 7 senses:

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

  Familiarity information: CRITICAL used as an adjective is common.


 Dictionary entry details 


CRITICAL (adjective)


Sense 1critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Marked by a tendency to find and call attention to errors and flaws

Context example:

a critical attitude

Similar:

captious; faultfinding (tending to find and call attention to faults)

blistering; scalding; scathing; vituperative (marked by harshly abusive criticism)

hypercritical; overcritical (inclined to judge too severely)

deprecative (given to expressing disapproval)

censorious (harshly critical or expressing censure)

carping; caviling; nitpicking; pettifogging; quibbling (quibbling over insignificant details)

Also:

unfavorable; unfavourable (not encouraging or approving or pleasing)

sarcastic (expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds)

Antonym:

uncritical (not critical; not tending to find or call attention to errors)


Sense 2critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

At or of a point at which a property or phenomenon suffers an abrupt change especially having enough mass to sustain a chain reaction

Context examples:

a critical temperature of water is 100 degrees C--its boiling point at standard atmospheric pressure / critical mass / go critical

Similar:

supercritical ((especially of fissionable material) able to sustain a chain reaction in such a manner that the rate of reaction increases)

Attribute:

criticality (a critical state; especially the point at which a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining)

Domain category:

natural philosophy; physical science; physics (the science of matter and energy and their interactions)

chemical science; chemistry (the science of matter; the branch of the natural sciences dealing with the composition of substances and their properties and reactions)

Antonym:

noncritical (not critical; not at a point of abrupt change)


Sense 3critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Characterized by careful evaluation and judgment

Context examples:

a critical reading / a critical dissertation / a critical analysis of Melville's writings

Similar:

appraising; evaluative (exercising or involving careful evaluations)

discriminative; judicial (expressing careful judgment)

Also:

scholarly (characteristic of scholars or scholarship)

discerning (having or revealing keen insight and good judgment)

Antonym:

uncritical (marked by disregard for critical standards or procedures)


Sense 4critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Urgently needed; absolutely necessary

Synonyms:

vital; critical

Context examples:

a critical element of the plan / critical medical supplies / vital for a healthy society / of vital interest

Similar:

indispensable (not to be dispensed with; essential)


Sense 5critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Forming or having the nature of a turning point or crisis

Synonyms:

decisive; critical

Context examples:

a critical point in the campaign / the critical test

Similar:

crucial; important (of extreme importance; vital to the resolution of a crisis)


Sense 6critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency

Context examples:

a critical shortage of food / a critical illness / an illness at the critical stage

Similar:

acute (of critical importance and consequence)

dangerous; grave; grievous; life-threatening; serious; severe (causing fear or anxiety by threatening great harm)

desperate; dire (fraught with extreme danger; nearly hopeless)

Also:

crucial; important (of extreme importance; vital to the resolution of a crisis)

Attribute:

crisis (an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty)

Antonym:

noncritical (not in a state of crisis or emergency)


Sense 7critical [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Of or involving or characteristic of critics or criticism

Classified under:

Relational adjectives (pertainyms)

Context example:

critical acclaim

Pertainym:

criticism (a serious examination and judgment of something)


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