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

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

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What does the word critical mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English language, the word critical is an adjective that describes something that is extremely important or vital, or serious and dangerous. Critical can also refer to a person who is prone to criticize others , or to point out their flaws. Something that is critical is of decisive importance. Many things can be critical, including a critical attitude, critical test, critical reading, critical analysis, and more. The word critical has three syllables – crit-i-cal, and the pronunciation of critical is krɪtɪkəl. 

This word can also refer to a patient’s condition that has an abrupt change or chain reaction of events that require critical care. This grave physical condition is a state of crisis and requires intensive care, usually via hospitalication. This person might need a medical facility and urgent treatment to receive a prognosis. Someone who has an illness at the critical stage might have unstable vital signs or abnormal vital signs which can be unfavorable indicators of their condition. Ones with critical illness need careful evaluation and critical medical supplies. One should not make assumptions but rather go through extensive testing to determine the cause of the issue. 

The term critical, according to Definitions, in physics, critical can also refer to a turning point at which some property or phenomenon has an abrupt change in temperature or self-sustaining reagent concentration, such as the critical temperature of water being 100 degrees c (boiling point) at standard atmospheric pressure. This chemical reaction causes it to boil. A critical mass can also refer to a mass of fissionable material. A critical essay is one that evaluate a work or collection of works.

There are many different languages that contain words meaning critical for both of its various meanings. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to each other. This is likely due to the fact that they share a common origin. Usually, cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean the same thing across languages, are formed when two words or languages share a common ancestor like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word critical is provided by Word Sense

Critical (adj.) – predisposed to find fault

  •  Czech: kritický‎ (masc.)
  •  French: critique‎
  •  Korean: 비판적‎ (bipanjeok)
  •  German: kritisch‎
  •  Hungarian: bíráló‎, kritikus‎
  •  Khmer: ដែលរកតែកំហុស‎ (dael rɔɔk tae kɑmhoh)
  •  Greek: επικριτικός‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: придиращ‎
  •  Irish: beachtaíoch‎
  •  Catalan: crític‎
  •  Persian: عیب‌جو‎ (‘eyb-ju), ایرادگیر‎ (irâd-gir)
  •  Arabic: النقد‎
  •  Dutch: kritisch‎
  •  Hebrew: ביקורתי‎ (biqorty)
  •  Japanese: 批判的‎
  •  Spanish: crítico‎ (masc.), crítica‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: приди́рчивый‎
  •  Portuguese: crítico‎
  •  Finnish: kriittinen‎, kritisoiva‎, arvosteleva‎

Critical (adj.) – of high importance

  •  Finnish: äärimmäisen tärkeä‎
  •  Portuguese: crítico‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: много важен‎, решителен‎
  •  Spanish: clave‎ (masc.) (f), trascendental‎ (masc.) (f), coyuntural‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Greek: κρίσιμος‎ (masc.)
  •  Dutch: kritiek‎
  •  Hungarian: kritikus‎
  •  Russian: крити́ческий‎, реши́тельный‎
  •  Esperanto: kriza‎
  •  Catalan: crític‎
  •  Persian: حیاتی‎ (hayâti)

How can the word critical be used in a sentence?

The word critical can be used in many different sentences. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try making a quiz or flashcards for yourself. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few different examples of the word critical used in sentences to help get you started.

There was a critical shortage of food – days ago, they were at their maximum, but their supply quickly dwindled to the minimum on a steep curve.

The box-office employees were critical of the film, but the movie-goers seemed to enjoy it. All of the employees had studied film criticism and felt the need to call attention to its plot holes, as they had a tendency to do with every film. 

The country was in a state of siege and a critical political situation. The leaders had to use skillful judgment to form a critical element of the pan. 

She wrote a critical dissertation during her time at Princeton University, in which she provided a careful analysis of different books.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word critical?

There are many different words in the English language that mean the same thing as the word critical. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are a very useful device to know because they can help you avoid repeating the same word over and over again while also expanding your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word critical is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  basic
  •  urgent
  •  precarious
  •  fussy
  •  crucial
  •  dire
  •  fastidious
  •  central
  •  delicate
  •  vital
  •  major
  •  fundamental
  •  life-and-death
  •  weighty
  •  dangerous
  •  necessary
  •  severe
  •  carping
  •  particular
  •  decisive
  •  judgmental
  •  captious
  •  discerning
  •  censorious
  •  discriminating
  •  grave
  •  deciding
  •  all-important
  •  pressing
  •  momentous
  •  serious
  •  consequential
  •  disapproving
  •  main
  •  hypercritical
  •  pivotal
  •  important
  •  indispensable
  •  significant
  •  demanding
  •  perilous
  •  fault-finding
  •  picky
  •  finicky
  •  acute
  •  derogatory
  •  deprecatory
  •  imperative
  •  disparaging
  •  essential

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word critical. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are useful words and phrases to know to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word critical is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  complimentary
  •  inconsiderable
  •  little dangerous
  •  unfussy
  •  slight
  •  small
  •  paltry
  •  pointless
  •  petty
  •  immaterial
  •  undemanding
  •  extraneous
  •  simple
  •  negligible
  •  nonessential
  •  irrelevant
  •  unneeded
  •  trivial
  •  insignificant
  •  praising
  •  trifling
  •  laudatory
  •  inconsequential
  •  unnecessary
  •  uncritical
  •  inessential
  •  dispensable
  •  piddling
  •  lightweight
  •  minor
  •  noncrucial
  •  surplus
  •  nugatory
  •  little
  •  unimportant
  •  non-essential
  •  non judgemental
  •  secondary
  •  auxiliary
  •  meaningless
  •  approving
  •  ancillary
  •  naive
  •  worthless
  •  inferior
  •  unessential
  •  acritical
  •  noncritical
  •  superfluous
  •  frivolous

Overall, the word critical means vital and important, serious and dangerous, or tending to criticize. This is a very versatile adjective.


  1. critical: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Critical synonyms – 2 071 Words and Phrases for Critical | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Critical antonyms – 625 Opposites of Critical | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Critical definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. What does critical mean? | Definitions