critical

The adjective critical has several meanings, among them, "vital," "verging on emergency," "tending to point out errors," and "careful."

If you're an emergency-room doctor with a patient in critical condition (on the highest alert), it's absolutely critical (vital or essential) that you be critical (careful and judicious) in your approach to their care, so that at the critical (decisive) moment, you can save their life. You must also be critical (that is, you must point out all the errors and flaws) of the jobs your colleagues are doing.

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: critical

1
adj
of or involving or characteristic of critics or criticism
2
adj
urgently needed; absolutely necessary
3
adj
at or of a point at which a property or phenomenon suffers an abrupt change especially having enough mass to sustain a chain reaction
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: critical
1

adj of or involving or characteristic of critics or criticism

critical acclaim”

adj characterized by careful evaluation and judgment

“a critical reading”
“a critical dissertation”
“a critical analysis of Melville's writings”
Synonyms
appraising, evaluative
exercising or involving careful evaluations
discriminative, judicial
expressing careful judgment
discerning
having or revealing keen insight and good judgment
scholarly
characteristic of scholars or scholarship
Antonyms:
noncritical, uncritical
marked by disregard for critical standards or procedures
unscholarly
not scholarly
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adj marked by a tendency to find and call attention to errors and flaws

“a critical attitude”
Synonyms
captious, faultfinding
tending to find and call attention to faults
censorious
harshly critical or expressing censure
deprecative
given to expressing disapproval
hypercritical, overcritical
inclined to judge too severely
searing
severely critical
scathing, vituperative
marked by harshly abusive criticism
unfavorable, unfavourable
not encouraging or approving or pleasing
sarcastic
expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds
Antonyms:
uncritical
not critical; not tending to find or call attention to errors
2

adj urgently needed; absolutely necessary

“a critical element of the plan”
critical medical supplies”
Synonyms:
vital
indispensable
not to be dispensed with; essential

adj forming or having the nature of a turning point or crisis

“a critical point in the campaign”
“the critical test”
Synonyms:
decisive
crucial, important
of extreme importance; vital to the resolution of a crisis

adj being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency

“a critical shortage of food”
“a critical illness”
“an illness at the critical stage”
Synonyms
acute
of critical importance and consequence
dangerous, grave, grievous, life-threatening, serious, severe
causing fear or anxiety by threatening great harm
desperate, dire
fraught with extreme danger; nearly hopeless
crucial, important
of extreme importance; vital to the resolution of a crisis
Antonyms:
noncritical, noncrucial
not in a state of crisis or emergency
acritical
without a crisis (as of some diseases)
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3

adj at or of a point at which a property or phenomenon suffers an abrupt change especially having enough mass to sustain a chain reaction

“a critical temperature of water is 100 degrees C--its boiling point at standard atmospheric pressure”
critical mass”
“go critical
Synonyms
supercritical
(especially of fissionable material) able to sustain a chain reaction in such a manner that the rate of reaction increases
Antonyms:
noncritical
not critical; not at a point of abrupt change
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