The Meaning of Criteria: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of criteria? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word criteria, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word criteria mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word criteria is the plural of criterion. The singular noun criterion refers to a standard of judgment or a definition characteristic of something. This is a common cant of criticism. People judge things based on certain sets of criteria. Criteria is four syllables – c ri-te-ri-a, and the pronunciation of criteria is kraɪˈtɪərɪə. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean criteria. You may notice that many of these translations of criteria look and sound similar to the word criteria itself. These are called cognates, which are words of different languages that look and sound alike while also retaining a similar meaning. These are often formed when two words or languages have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of the word criteria is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Estonian: kriteerium‎
  •  Hungarian: feltétel‎
  •  Russian: крите́рий‎, мери́ло‎ (neut.)
  •  Mongolian: шалгуур‎
  •  Italian: criterio‎ (masc.)
  •  French: critère‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: kriteeri‎
  •  Dutch: criterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Latvian: kritērijs‎ (masc.)
  •  Romanian: criteriu‎ (neut.)
  •  Czech: kritérium‎ (neut.), kriterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Bulgarian: критерий‎, мерило‎
  •  Indonesian: kriteria‎, kriterium‎
  •  Chinese – Mandarin: 標準‎, 标准‎ (biāozhǔn), 尺度‎ (chǐdù), 準則‎, 准则‎ (zhǔnzé), 軌範‎, 轨范‎ (guǐfàn)
  •  Greek: κριτήριο‎ (neut.)
  •  Kurdish – Sorani: میزان‎ (mízan), کریتێر‎ (kritér), پێوه‌ر‎ (péwer)
  •  Polish: kryterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Portuguese: critério‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: criterio‎ (masc.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: mjerilo‎ (neut.)
  •  German: Kriterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Korean: 표준‎
  •  Japanese: 基準‎ (きじゅん, kijun), 判断基準‎ (はんだんきじゅん, handan kijun)
  •  Catalan: criteri‎ (masc.)
  •  Arabic: معيار‎ (masc.)
  •  Maori: paearu‎
  •  Tagalog: panuntunan‎
  •  Esperanto: kriterio‎
  •  Swedish: kriterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Norwegian: kriterium‎ (masc.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: slat-tomhais‎ (fem.)
  •  Danish: kriterium‎ (neut.)
  •  Hebrew: קריטריון‎
  •  Turkish: ölçüt‎, kriter‎, kıstas‎, (obsolete) mısdak‎

What are synonyms and antonyms of criteria?

There are many different words and phrases that a person can choose to use in place of the word criteria. These are called synonyms, which are defined as words and phrases with the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms of criteria is from Power Thesaurus.

  •  criterion
  •  rules of conduct
  •  crite
  •  condition
  •  baselines
  •  ideals
  •  checks
  •  mils
  •  meters
  •  conventionalities
  •  conditions
  •  guideline
  •  canon
  •  test
  •  gauge
  •  miles
  •  millimeters
  •  yardstick
  •  models
  •  basis
  •  standards
  •  measure
  •  barometers
  •  ethics
  •  benchmark
  •  circumstances
  •  hectometers
  •  measures
  •  guides
  •  microns
  •  touchstone
  •  pars
  •  specification
  •  benchmarks
  •  decency
  •  dillies
  •  barometer
  •  leagues
  •  exhibitors
  •  gauges
  •  referrals
  •  norms
  •  touchstone
  •  references
  •  yardsticks
  •  ethos
  •  scale
  •  standard
  •  norm
  •  tests
  •  reference point
  •  defining characteristic

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word criteria. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus. 

  •  abortion
  •  misunderstanding
  •  stupidity
  •  changes
  •  incomprehension
  •  unconsciousness
  •  guess
  •  change
  •  noncomprehension
  •  blindness
  •  misconception
  •  certainty
  •  misinterpretation
  •  mistake
  •  ease
  •  ignorance

What is the origin of the word criteria?

According to Etymonline, the word criteria has been used since the 17th century in the 1660s as a Latinized form of the Greek kriterion/Greek kritḗrion/Greek kritērion. This comes from the Greek kritēs judge from the Greek krinein, meaning “to decide.” This is from the root kri, a variant stem of krī́nein and tērion neuter suffix of means. This plural form of criterion was formed according to the Ancient Greek ον or on into α or a, or into  ē-ən into  ē-ə which has been adopted into an English pattern for a pluralisation pattern.

How can the word criteria be used in a sentence?

There are many different ways in which the word criteria can be used in a sentence in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with their definitions and add them to your vocabulary. You can also try making flashcards or a quiz for yourself to test your knowledge of the definitions of different words. Try using this new word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several different examples of using the word criteria in a sentence to help get your started.

The only criteria for how Genesis decided to grade essays was if they kept her engaged. She was willing to be more lax about structure and grammar if her students really made an attempt to convince her or make her feel something about their given topic. Frequently, the two went hand in hand, as the students who cared about writing a convincing essay also cared about it being polished and perfect.

The university’s criteria for admission was based solely off of merit. They had a blind admissions process, and did not take into account where their students were from, their gender, age, race, or any other such criteria. Some believed that this gave the privileged an unfair advantage and that potential students needed to be evaluated holistically, not just as numbers on a page.

The once unquestioned acceptability of agenda began to be evaluated by stricter criteria with greater frequency. The workers at the company were no longer cogs in a machine, but felt the need to question the righteousness of the company. 

The judge evaluated the timeline of events that the defendant laid out with strict criteria. She wanted to be sure he was sharing the information with true chronological validity, and attempted to poke several holes in his story. 

Overall, the word criteria means a set of standards by which to judge something. The plural criteria comes from the singular criterion.


  1. criterion | Origin and meaning of criterion | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. Criteria synonyms – 128 Words and Phrases for Criteria | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Criteria antonyms – 16 Opposites of Criteria | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Criteria definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. criterion: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense