Definition of critical in English:



  • 1Expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgements.

    ‘I was very critical of the previous regime’
    • ‘The environment committee has just published a report that's quite critical of the executive.’
    • ‘The Ofsted report was highly critical of the school, and said its weaknesses far exceeded its strengths.’
    • ‘The consultants report was very critical of the company and the Trust for employing too many overpaid people with very substantial perks.’
    • ‘The report is also critical of road safety education because of its lack of prominence, vagueness and poor training for teachers.’
    • ‘The report is highly critical of the quality of teaching standards’
    • ‘Last year the National Tidy Towns Report was very critical of litter in our town and surrounding areas, and so far this year the same problem has arisen.’
    • ‘The report is critical of the inhumane treatment of children in arbitrary detention and calls into question our commitment to human rights.’
    • ‘He has also been critical of overcrowding in Scotland's jails.’
    • ‘The report was critical of his involvement in the deal.’
    • ‘The report was critical of the British government, essentially describing current initiatives to tackle obesity as much talk but little action.’
    • ‘We think also it's probably the most critical of all the reports done so far.’
    • ‘The report was critical of many things in the town including the fire station.’
    • ‘Inman is highly critical of industry sponsored safety studies, which he regards as marketing exercises.’
    • ‘Mr Lloyd also revealed that an internal report had been critical of the force's vetting system.’
    • ‘Of course, to be honest, since when has a one of these reports been really critical of the government that set it up?’
    • ‘The report is highly critical of succeeding governments because to date nothing has happened.’
    • ‘While the report is critical of the intelligence services, it clears the British Prime Minister of misleading the public over the case for war.’
    • ‘The report was critical of police because there was no formal procedure to chase up those who failed to answer to bail.’
    • ‘Children with low self-esteem tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves.’
    • ‘Parts of the report are heavily critical of the district's police who, it says, have conflicting styles.’
    censorious, condemnatory, condemning, castigatory, reproving, denunciatory, deprecatory, disparaging, disapproving, scathing, criticizing, fault-finding, judgemental, negative, unfavourable, unsympathetic
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  • 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’
    • ‘He has also performed Handel's ‘Messiah’ to huge critical acclaim in the past.’
    • ‘Set up a year ago by Martin Wheeler, 33, Iwari and its artists have sparked critical acclaim in the music press.’
    • ‘It makes you feel good to watch, regardless of what critical merits it possesses.’
    • ‘How does he feel about the critical acclaim from a usually unimpressed music scene?’
    • ‘The 20-year-old left with top grades in philosophy, English literature and sociology as well as a merit in critical thinking.’
    • ‘BBC Music achieved significant sales growth and critical acclaim this year.’
    • ‘Lee, 35, has been in the play for 18 months, including a stint in London's West End, where he received critical acclaim.’
    • ‘His intense, swaggering stage presence and masterful violin playing has won him both fans and critical acclaim all over the world.’
    • ‘Her second album secured her place in the hearts of real music fans and won her wide critical acclaim.’
    • ‘The next thing I knew, I was on the receiving end of some serious critical acclaim.’
    • ‘The band is stirring both critical and popular acclaim for their soulful, virtuoso playing and thrilling live performances.’
    • ‘For the first time since the late 1960s British rock music was experiencing critical and financial acclaim.’
    • ‘It was released in July 2001 to critical acclaim.’
    • ‘The novel brought her major critical acclaim and received the Prix Medici literary award in 1964.’
    • ‘Drawing comparisons between film-makers and designers has its merits on critical and theoretical levels.’
    • ‘Not all the projects have garnered critical acclaim, but few involved in New York's music scene fail to acknowledge Moss' gutsiness.’
    • ‘Already their work has come in for considerable critical acclaim from those that have seen it and it is expected to be in huge demand by poetry and art lovers.’
    • ‘His recent CD recording of Liszt's piano music received critical acclaim.’
    • ‘It received critical acclaim and the British music press were touting the song's writer, Annie, as a future world-conquering popstar.’
    • ‘An unlikely Australian export is receiving critical acclaim in Britain.’
    evaluative, analytic, analytical, interpretative, expository, commentative, explanatory, explicative, elucidative
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    1. 2.1 (of a text) incorporating a detailed and scholarly analysis and commentary.
      ‘a critical edition of a Bach sonata’
      • ‘This book is a hybrid negotiating the ground between critical text and coffee table ornament.’
      • ‘Moreover, to be truly seen and understood is close to the pinnacle for a work of art, and no critical essay can see and understand as deeply as the best parodies.’
      • ‘This is a new translation of the German critical edition of Bonhoeffer's text.’
      • ‘The comprehensive citation of critical articles and journals will be extremely useful to scholars.’
      • ‘The critical literature provides three different schools of thought on this subject.’
      • ‘I'd rather just read the critical text than read the same thing watered down and simplified in fiction.’
      • ‘These texts are joined by a critical essay and an extensive bibliography of each poet's work.’
      • ‘Translations of major texts are borrowed from current scholarly editions, while English texts are based on critical editions.’
      • ‘Yesterday they were presented to the public, together with plans for a definitive critical edition of Benjamin's works.’
      • ‘They would not know that there is presently a vast body of critical literature.’
      • ‘Many of the critical essays skillfully blend pertinent close readings with wider cultural background.’
      • ‘Let us hypothesize, therefore, that Barthes set out to write critical texts as if they were the theses he never wrote.’
      • ‘Entire pages of these two critical texts are presented in her book, bilingual explanations on the left-hand side, graphic images on the right.’
      • ‘Carver read drafts and wrote over 300 pages of critical notes for Robertson.’
      • ‘Every museum publication has critical essays and an interview with the artist.’
      • ‘He published 17 volumes of poetry, numerous translations, and two volumes of critical essays.’
      • ‘There are virtually no references to the vast critical literature on Dostoevsky.’
      • ‘Since Q2 represents the text closest to the author's manuscript it might be chosen as the copy text for a critical edition.’
      • ‘A critical edition of the same in English is also being done simultaneously.’
      • ‘Those who were denied the right to vote in free and fair elections, to own mobile phones and to buy critical literature are now free to do so.’
    2. 2.2 Involving 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’
      • ‘Gavin sits on a Masters Degree Visual Arts Practises course with me where we have seen critical judgment voided by curatorial organisational skills.’
      • ‘Women Studies from the beginning was projected as a critical inquiry that would seek to expose the structures that upheld the subordination of women.’
      • ‘The investigations, however, were not only celebratory; various critical examinations of the institution of cinema also emerged.’
      • ‘The classic critical essay in this third region of investigation is Paul de Man's " The Rhetoric of Temporality ".’
      • ‘The book is written to engage the tribe of fellow economists who often pride themselves as critical thinkers.’
      • ‘To those who have an education grounded in critical thinking and science we can see through it very clearly.’
      • ‘The critical evaluations of a favourite work by four Irish art critics are both informative and entertaining.’
      • ‘Freire's own model of critical pedagogy invites a critical interrogation of this flaw in the work.’
      • ‘Like the other work in this issue, Leong's vision arrests and disturbs, creating unsettling moments that insistently summon critical imagination.’
      • ‘The caricatures are critical analyses of a writer's childhood, life style, ideology and views.’
      • ‘But it's the number raptors killed - the eight owls and 10 hawks - that drew Ho's critical eye.’
      • ‘U.S. Latino Literatures and Cultures: Transnational Perspectives is an important point of reference in assessing developments in this rapidly evolving field of critical enquiry.’
      • ‘Hilliard describes educators who respect prior knowledge and engage in critical analysis, who treat their children as scholars.’
      • ‘Peer learning tasks that require critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making can be challenging for both the teacher and students.’
      • ‘The book is divided into two parts: a 35-page critical essay followed by drawings grouped according to theme.’
      • ‘Key to the audit committee's effectiveness and accountability is a critical self assessment for the audit committee as well as each individual member.’
      • ‘True, they produce many religious pamphlets, but relatively few books that contribute to critical knowledge.’
      • ‘Three major areas in which the Intelligence field must retrofit are in force structure, training and critical thinking skills.’
      • ‘Interpret the results: Whereas statistical analysis is mostly computer-based, interpretation of the results requires critical thinking.’
      • ‘In these and similar cases, Loury's critical insight is that mistakes in perception lead to mistakes in judgment that reinforce the initial social stigma.’
  • 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’
    • ‘And remember, we were talking of a very critical situation.’
    • ‘The report reveals that shortage of specialist staff in key areas still remains a critical problem.’
    • ‘The city on the hill has a very critical problem with water.’
    • ‘In Scotland the situation is particularly critical.’
    • ‘There's also traction control to help you keep in command during critical situations such as ice or gravel on the roads.’
    • ‘This is a creative and innovative way of solving a very critical problem for America.’
    • ‘I'm afraid that if anything, the situation is more critical and needs attention globally.’
    • ‘The security guards expressed similar fears but were more confident because they are trained to handle such critical situations.’
    • ‘It was a critical situation that confronted our firemen.’
    • ‘That was a critical problem that we've had in the past.’
    • ‘He replied that his company didn't think it was facing a critical situation at that point.’
    • ‘The situation is critical and the EU countries must resolve this problem before the December 17 Meeting.’
    • ‘Saxe-Coburg postponed his Wednesday visit to Brussels because of the critical situation after the terrorist acts.’
    • ‘We have a potentially critical situation here.’
    • ‘We usually get an urgent notice in case the situation is too critical.’
    • ‘None of these problems is critical, but they all act to inhibit the process of renewing Australia's economic infrastructure.’
    • ‘It puts us in a difficult and critical situation.’
    • ‘They felt that they had to do something in this critical situation.’
    • ‘It will also prove that the Indonesian government is intelligent and creative enough to resolve its most critical problems.’
    • ‘The situation is critical, and the government should act NOW!’
    grave, serious, dangerous, risky, perilous, hazardous, precarious, touch-and-go, in the balance, uncertain, desperate, dire, acute, very bad
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    1. 3.1 Extremely ill and at risk of death.
      ‘she was critical but stable in Middlesbrough General Hospital’
      • ‘Kathy was dead from head wounds, and her son and husband were taken to the hospital in critical condition.’
      • ‘One recruit is dead from a rash and another person is in critical condition with a serious form of Strep.’
      • ‘He had been in critical condition since he was assaulted on Sunday.’
      • ‘Two of the five taken to the hospital are in critical condition.’
      • ‘He was taken to hospital and was in critical condition.’
      • ‘One of the 17 injured was said to be in critical condition.’
      • ‘As of Wednesday afternoon at least two workers remained in critical condition from severe burns and six others were listed in serious condition.’
      • ‘One of them was in critical condition following surgery for multiple internal injuries and severe burns.’
      • ‘He remained in critical condition on a life-support machine, but lost his fight for life yesterday afternoon.’
      • ‘One person is said to be in critical condition, four others in serious condition.’
      • ‘One soldier was in critical condition and the other two were in stable condition.’
      • ‘More than a dozen were in critical condition with head and chest wounds and severe burns.’
      • ‘The 82-year-old female driver of the vehicle remains in critical condition at Lions Gate Hospital.’
      • ‘The second younger couple was so seriously injured that they were airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital in critical condition.’
      • ‘Following the accident, he was rushed to hospital in critical condition with a severe head injury and underwent brain surgery the very next day.’
      • ‘One of them is in critical condition, the other in serious condition.’
      • ‘Many were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and 38 remained there yesterday, 14 of them in critical condition.’
      • ‘Eight Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of whom is in critical condition.’
      • ‘Although Gainer was in critical condition on Sunday, he was in stable condition on Monday at Foothills Hospital.’
      • ‘It said nine of those injured were in critical condition, suggesting that the death toll might rise.’
    2. 3.2 Having 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’
      • ‘In today's fast-paced dairy industry, speed to market is a critical success factor.’
      • ‘This completely fails to recognise the critical importance that success in business has in funding our aspirations for the public services.’
      • ‘This builds commitment among staff, a critical factor for business success.’
      • ‘This is crucial to our credibility and critical to our success.’
      • ‘But do they represent a critical factor in the success or failure of a business?’
      • ‘Each focuses on different critical factors in its success at the individual, group, and community levels.’
      • ‘A critical success factor that the research team found related to strong product knowledge.’
      • ‘The distinguishing feature of their initial period will be its crucial and critical, decisive character.’
      • ‘Reducing elapsed time can in fact make the critical difference between success and failure.’
      • ‘Human and animal transport is often critical to the success or failure of a military campaign.’
      • ‘The sauna culture is critical and crucial to understanding Finland's commercial successes.’
      • ‘The board is going to have to make a critical decision about the successor.’
      • ‘This gives them the right to take decisions of critical importance, having gained two thirds of the stake in the holding.’
      • ‘For that reason, we are starting with safety to emphasize its importance as critical to a successful project.’
      • ‘We know that early detection is of critical importance.’
      • ‘You will need to follow the many family businesses for whom embracing non-family executives into the extended family of the firm is a critical success factor.’
      • ‘Simply stated, this is an issue of critical importance to the future success of the New Zealand economy.’
      • ‘The critical factor in the failure of endowment mortgages has been poor investment returns.’
      • ‘One of the most critical factors in the success of any retreat is its ability to fully engage all attendees.’
      • ‘This research considers the factors critical for success as perceived by different parties.’
      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
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  • 4Physics Mathematics
    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’
    • ‘Similarly, superconductivity can be destroyed by applying a magnetic field that exceeds some critical value.’
    • ‘As the concentration of cholesterol in the bilayer exceeds a critical value, phase separation occurs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The bear market of 2002, however, has changed the critical threshold values for this indicator.’
    • ‘When the fraction is close to the critical value, computation times become very large.’
  • 5(of a nuclear reactor or fuel) maintaining a self-sustaining chain reaction.

    ‘the reactor is due to go critical in October’


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