from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality, state, or degree of being of the highest importance: "The challenge of our future food supply is approaching criticality” ( New York Times).
  • n. Physics The point at which a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being critical
  • n. A disposition for purposeful thinking and acting guided by criteria that are considered to be contextually appropriate and that are expected to result in positive outcomes related to the purpose.
  • n. The point at which a nuclear reaction becomes self-sustaining

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The quality of being critical.
  • n. A critical idea or observation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a critical state; especially the point at which a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining
  • n. a state of critical urgency


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • No requirement of "criticality" is necessary for ideological correctness: the purpose of art is to be aesthetic, and contemporary artists are exploiting the aesthetic possibilities of mass culture to create "fine art" that doesn't pretend to an inherent "superiority" over that culture.

    Art and Culture

  • He said the unit, which shut down on Saturday in reaction to outages elsewhere on the national grid, was synchronised with the grid at 4. 30am on Thursday, which meant the process of bringing it to "criticality" - the point at which it started generating - could start.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • I would suggest that this exact effect, in which criticality is located as part of somebody’s worldview rather than as required by reality, and can thus be left to churn away at the next table, starts to account for iniquities of publication and prize money.

    Essentialism? Say What? : Emily Warn : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.

    July 2006

  • This much we know: 1. On 19 February, 2000, MAPLE1 began a self-sustaining reaction, known as criticality; something necessary to be a real-live nuclear reactor; 2. On 9 October, 2003, MAPLE2 went critical.

    Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment may in fact, WORK.

  • Tube vaults are typically cylinders embedded in concrete that prevent the accidental formation of critical masses of highly enriched uranium that could undergo bursts of nuclear fission, known as a criticality incident.

    Propeller Most Popular Stories

  • That this move attributing "criticality" to works is so familiar only reinforces (for me) the extent to which criticism of art and literature has become wholly fixated on the something said at the expense of the forms of saying (and how form itself mutates straightforward "saying"), but I'm not sure why she needs to use "complicity" as a description of the act of avoiding negativity.

    Art and Culture

  • Between 1958 and 1978 government-owned processing plants had six "criticality" accidents.

    Can It Happen Here?

  • Ideally, response is measured by criticality which is a function of nature, magnitude and timing, and it is never absolute -- by that I mean you never commit all the fire engines to one fire.

    Churchill Falls and Beyond

  • Incumbent Lee County School Board member Steve Teuber sent us to the dictionary when he said his business background is needed for the "criticality" of finances.

    Naples Daily News Stories


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