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inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily.
occupied with or skilled in criticism.
involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc.; judicial:
a critical analysis.
of or relating to critics or criticism:
critical essays.
providing textual variants, proposed emendations, etc.:
a critical edition of Chaucer.
pertaining to or of the nature of a crisis:
a critical shortage of food.
of decisive importance with respect to the outcome; crucial:
a critical moment.
of essential importance; indispensable:
a critical ingredient.
Medicine/Medical. (of a patient’s condition) having unstable and abnormal vital signs and other unfavorable indicators, as loss of appetite, poor mobility, or unconsciousness.

pertaining to a state, value, or quantity at which one or more properties of a substance or system undergo a change.
(of fissionable material) having enough mass to sustain a chain reaction.

Contemporary Examples

The hurricane takes two critical states, Virginia and New Hampshire, off the campaign trail this week.
Hurricane Sandy Is a Nasty October Surprise for Mitt Romney Howard Kurtz October 28, 2012

These are, truthfully, important topics for legitimate, critical press and congressional scrutiny.
Stop Calling Obama Aloof! Paul Begala May 19, 2013

Murphy is listed in critical condition at Froedtert Hospital, but is expected to survive his wounds.
The Spirit of 9/11—From Brooklyn and India, Oak Creek Heroes Face Evil Michael Daly August 6, 2012

The injured are being treated at local hospitals and their conditions range from critical to serious.
Ft. Hood Shooter Had a ‘Clean Record’ Jacob Siegel, Ben Jacobs April 2, 2014

The marriage equality fight was a critical test of mainstreaming a cutting-edge issue.
New York Passes Gay Marriage: This Is the Tipping Point John Avlon June 24, 2011

Historical Examples

At this critical juncture Boris was seized with a fatal illness.
The Russian Opera Rosa Newmarch

I should think Mr. Hynes would be too critical to admire Milly.
The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark

But we cannot complain of this critical activity, however misplaced.
The African Colony John Buchan

The best biography of Handel and critical study of his works in English.
Handel Edward J. Dent

The work is invaluable for its philological research and critical acumen.
Dderlein’s Hand-book of Latin Synonymes Ludwig Dderlein

containing or making severe or negative judgments
containing careful or analytical evaluations: a critical dissertation
of or involving a critic or criticism
of or forming a crisis; crucial; decisive: a critical operation
urgently needed: critical medical supplies
(informal) so seriously injured or ill as to be in danger of dying
(physics) of, denoting, or concerned with a state in which the properties of a system undergo an abrupt change: a critical temperature
go critical, (of a nuclear power station or reactor) to reach a state in which a nuclear-fission chain reaction becomes self-sustaining

1580s, “censorious,” from critic + -al (1). Meaning “pertaining to criticism” is from 1741; medical sense is from c.1600; meaning “of the nature of a crisis” is from 1640s; that of “crucial” is from 1841, from the “decisive” sense in Latin criticus. Related: Criticality (1756; in the nuclear sense, 1950); critically (1650s, “accurately;” 1815, “in a critical situation”). In nuclear science, critical mass is attested from 1940.

critical crit·i·cal (krĭt’ĭ-kəl)

Of or relating to a medical crisis.

Being or relating to a grave physical condition especially of a patient.

Of or relating to the value of a measurement, such as temperature, at which an abrupt change in a chemical of physical quality, property, or state occurs.


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