Definition of critical adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    critical

     adjective
    adjective
    BrE BrE//ˈkrɪtɪkl//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkrɪtɪkl//
     
     
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    expressing disapproval
  1. 1  expressing disapproval of somebody/something and saying what you think is bad about them a critical comment/report The supervisor is always very critical. critical of somebody/something Tom's parents were highly critical of the school.
  2. important
  3. 2  extremely important because a future situation will be affected by it synonym crucial a critical factor in the election campaign Reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of critical importance. Your decision is critical to our future. Synonymsessentialvital crucial critical decisive indispensableThese words all describe somebody/​something that is extremely important and completely necessary because a particular situation or activity depends on them.essential extremely important and completely necessary, because without it something cannot exist, be made or be successful:Experience is essential for this job.vital essential:The police play a vital role in our society.essential or vital?These words have the same meaning but there can be a slight difference in tone. Essential is used to state a fact or opinion with authority. Vital is often used when there is some anxiety felt about something, or a need to persuade somebody that a fact or opinion is true, right or important. Vital is less often used in negative statements:It was vital to show that he was not afraid. Money is not vital to happiness.crucial extremely important because a particular situation or activity depends on it:It is crucial that we get this right.critical extremely important because a particular situation or activity depends on it:Your decision is critical to our future.crucial or critical?These words have the same meaning but there can be a slight difference in context. Critical is often used in technical matters of business or science; crucial is often used to talk about matters that may cause anxiety or other emotions.decisive of the greatest importance in affecting the final result of a particular situation:She has played a decisive role in the peace negotiations.indispensable essential; too important to be without:Cars have become an indispensable part of our lives.Patterns essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable for something essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​indispensable to something essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical that… essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical to do something a(n) essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable part/​factor of vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive importance absolutely essential/​vital/​crucial/​critical/​decisive/​indispensable
  4. serious/dangerous
  5. 3  serious, uncertain and possibly dangerous The first 24 hours after the operation are the most critical. a critical moment in our country’s history One of the victims of the fire remains in a critical condition. see also crisis
  6. making careful judgements
  7. 4  involving making fair, careful judgements about the good and bad qualities of somebody/something Students are encouraged to develop critical thinking instead of accepting opinions without questioning them.
  8. of art/music/books, etc.
  9. 5[only before noun] according to the judgement of critics of art, music, literature, etc. the film director’s greatest critical success In her day she never received the critical acclaim (= praise from the critics) she deserved.
  10. Word Origin mid 16th cent. (in the sense ‘relating to the crisis of a disease’): from late Latin criticus, from Greek kritikos, from kritēs ‘a judge’, from krinein ‘judge, decide’.Extra examples Maintaining control of the the budget is absolutely critical for success. She became openly critical of party policy. The report was highly critical of the company’s poor safety record. This reorganization is critical to the long-term future of the company. If the temperature drops those critical two degrees, the engine will stop functioning. One of the victims of the fire remains in a critical condition. One of the victims remains in critical condition. Price and availability are the critical factors that will determine product success. Reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of critical importance. They issued a critical report on the government’s handling of the crisis. This is a critical moment in our country’s history. Tom’s parents were highly critical of the school.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: critical