Definition of critical in US English:



  • 1Expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments.

    ‘he was critical of many U.S. welfare programs’
    • ‘The report is highly critical of the quality of teaching standards’
    • ‘The environment committee has just published a report that's quite critical of the executive.’
    • ‘Parts of the report are heavily critical of the district's police who, it says, have conflicting styles.’
    • ‘The report is critical of the inhumane treatment of children in arbitrary detention and calls into question our commitment to human rights.’
    • ‘The report is also critical of road safety education because of its lack of prominence, vagueness and poor training for teachers.’
    • ‘The report was critical of many things in the town including the fire station.’
    • ‘The report was critical of police because there was no formal procedure to chase up those who failed to answer to bail.’
    • ‘The report was critical of the British government, essentially describing current initiatives to tackle obesity as much talk but little action.’
    • ‘The report was critical of his involvement in the deal.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He has also been critical of overcrowding in Scotland's jails.’
    • ‘Mr Lloyd also revealed that an internal report had been critical of the force's vetting system.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We think also it's probably the most critical of all the reports done so far.’
    • ‘Inman is highly critical of industry sponsored safety studies, which he regards as marketing exercises.’
    • ‘Of course, to be honest, since when has a one of these reports been really critical of the government that set it up?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Children with low self-esteem tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves.’
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The band is stirring both critical and popular acclaim for their soulful, virtuoso playing and thrilling live performances.’
    • ‘It received critical acclaim and the British music press were touting the song's writer, Annie, as a future world-conquering popstar.’
    • ‘Not all the projects have garnered critical acclaim, but few involved in New York's music scene fail to acknowledge Moss' gutsiness.’
    • ‘It was released in July 2001 to critical acclaim.’
    • ‘The next thing I knew, I was on the receiving end of some serious 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For the first time since the late 1960s British rock music was experiencing critical and financial acclaim.’
    • ‘Drawing comparisons between film-makers and designers has its merits on critical and theoretical levels.’
    • ‘Lee, 35, has been in the play for 18 months, including a stint in London's West End, where he received critical acclaim.’
    • ‘He has also performed Handel's ‘Messiah’ to huge critical acclaim in the past.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An unlikely Australian export is receiving critical acclaim in Britain.’
    • ‘It makes you feel good to watch, regardless of what critical merits it possesses.’
    • ‘The novel brought her major critical acclaim and received the Prix Medici literary award in 1964.’
    evaluative, analytic, analytical, interpretative, expository, commentative, explanatory, explicative, elucidative
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    1. 2.1 (of a published literary or musical text) incorporating a detailed and scholarly analysis and commentary.
      ‘a critical edition of a Bach sonata’
      • ‘Since Q2 represents the text closest to the author's manuscript it might be chosen as the copy text for a critical edition.’
      • ‘Yesterday they were presented to the public, together with plans for a definitive critical edition of Benjamin's works.’
      • ‘There are virtually no references to the vast critical literature on Dostoevsky.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many of the critical essays skillfully blend pertinent close readings with wider cultural background.’
      • ‘These texts are joined by a critical essay and an extensive bibliography of each poet's work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Every museum publication has critical essays and an interview with the artist.’
      • ‘I'd rather just read the critical text than read the same thing watered down and simplified in fiction.’
      • ‘He published 17 volumes of poetry, numerous translations, and two volumes of critical essays.’
      • ‘They would not know that there is presently a vast body of critical literature.’
      • ‘Entire pages of these two critical texts are presented in her book, bilingual explanations on the left-hand side, graphic images on the right.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A critical edition of the same in English is also being done simultaneously.’
      • ‘Carver read drafts and wrote over 300 pages of critical notes for Robertson.’
      • ‘This book is a hybrid negotiating the ground between critical text and coffee table ornament.’
      • ‘Translations of major texts are borrowed from current scholarly editions, while English texts are based on critical editions.’
      • ‘Let us hypothesize, therefore, that Barthes set out to write critical texts as if they were the theses he never wrote.’
      • ‘The critical literature provides three different schools of thought on this subject.’
    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 in their students’
  • 3(of a situation or problem) having the potential to become disastrous; at a point of crisis.

    ‘the flood waters had not receded, and the situation was still critical’
    • ‘We have a potentially critical situation here.’
    • ‘The city on the hill has a very critical problem with water.’
    • ‘The situation is critical, and the government should act NOW!’
    • ‘This is a creative and innovative way of solving a very critical problem for America.’
    • ‘It will also prove that the Indonesian government is intelligent and creative enough to resolve its most critical problems.’
    • ‘The security guards expressed similar fears but were more confident because they are trained to handle such critical situations.’
    • ‘They felt that they had to do something in this critical situation.’
    • ‘It puts us in a difficult and critical situation.’
    • ‘I'm afraid that if anything, the situation is more critical and needs attention globally.’
    • ‘It was a critical situation that confronted our firemen.’
    • ‘None of these problems is critical, but they all act to inhibit the process of renewing Australia's economic infrastructure.’
    • ‘In Scotland the situation is particularly critical.’
    • ‘That was a critical problem that we've had in the past.’
    • ‘The situation is critical and the EU countries must resolve this problem before the December 17 Meeting.’
    • ‘There's also traction control to help you keep in command during critical situations such as ice or gravel on the roads.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He replied that his company didn't think it was facing a critical situation at that point.’
    • ‘We usually get an urgent notice in case the situation is too critical.’
    • ‘Saxe-Coburg postponed his Wednesday visit to Brussels because of the critical situation after the terrorist acts.’
    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 (of a person) extremely ill and at risk of death.
      ‘he had been in critical condition since undergoing surgery’
      • ‘Eight Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of whom is in critical condition.’
      • ‘One person is said to be in critical condition, four others in serious condition.’
      • ‘The second younger couple was so seriously injured that they were airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital in critical condition.’
      • ‘Many were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and 38 remained there yesterday, 14 of them in critical condition.’
      • ‘One of them is in critical condition, the other in serious condition.’
      • ‘He had been in critical condition since he was assaulted on Sunday.’
      • ‘One soldier was in critical condition and the other two were in stable 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.’
      • ‘The 82-year-old female driver of the vehicle remains in critical condition at Lions Gate Hospital.’
      • ‘He remained in critical condition on a life-support machine, but lost his fight for life yesterday afternoon.’
      • ‘More than a dozen were in critical condition with head and chest wounds and severe burns.’
      • ‘Although Gainer was in critical condition on Sunday, he was in stable condition on Monday at Foothills Hospital.’
      • ‘One recruit is dead from a rash and another person is in critical condition with a serious form of Strep.’
      • ‘Two of the five taken to the hospital are 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.’
      • ‘He was taken to hospital and was in critical condition.’
      • ‘One of them was in critical condition following surgery for multiple internal injuries and severe burns.’
      • ‘Kathy was dead from head wounds, and her son and husband were taken to the hospital in critical condition.’
      • ‘One of the 17 injured was said to be in critical condition.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘This builds commitment among staff, a critical factor for business success.’
      • ‘Human and animal transport is often critical to the success or failure of a military campaign.’
      • ‘Each focuses on different critical factors in its success at the individual, group, and community levels.’
      • ‘This gives them the right to take decisions of critical importance, having gained two thirds of the stake in the holding.’
      • ‘The board is going to have to make a critical decision about the successor.’
      • ‘The distinguishing feature of their initial period will be its crucial and critical, decisive character.’
      • ‘In today's fast-paced dairy industry, speed to market is a critical success factor.’
      • ‘But do they represent a critical factor in the success or failure of a business?’
      • ‘We know that early detection is of critical importance.’
      • ‘A critical success factor that the research team found related to strong product knowledge.’
      • ‘For that reason, we are starting with safety to emphasize its importance as critical to a successful project.’
      • ‘This completely fails to recognise the critical importance that success in business has in funding our aspirations for the public services.’
      • ‘Simply stated, this is an issue of critical importance to the future success of the New Zealand economy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is crucial to our credibility and critical to our success.’
      • ‘This research considers the factors critical for success as perceived by different parties.’
      • ‘The critical factor in the failure of endowment mortgages has been poor investment returns.’
      • ‘The sauna culture is critical and crucial to understanding Finland's commercial successes.’
      • ‘One of the most critical factors in the success of any retreat is its ability to fully engage all attendees.’
      • ‘Reducing elapsed time can in fact make the critical difference between success and failure.’
      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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As the concentration of cholesterol in the bilayer exceeds a critical value, phase separation occurs.’
  • 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).