Critical may denote:

More specifically:


Psychology and education

  • critical pedagogy - helping students achieve critical consciousness
  • critical psychology - critiquing mainstream psychology, often looking towards social change as a means of preventing and treating psychopathology
  • critical thinking - mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation

Biology and medicine

  • critical care - intensive care medicine
  • critical period - a time in the early stages of an organism's life during which it displays a heightened sensitivity to certain environmental stimuli, and develops in particular ways due to experiences at this time



  • critical angle - the angle of incidence above which total internal reflection occurs.
  • critical distance - in audio physics, the distance at which the sound pressure level of the direct and the reverberant sound fields are equal when dealing with a directional source.
  • critical mass - the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.
  • critical point (thermodynamics) - conditions (temperature, pressure) at which the liquid state of matter ceases to exist
  • critical speed - the theoretical angular velocity which excites the natural frequency of a screw or gear.

Process control

  • Critical Control Point - a point, step or procedure at which controls can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable (critical) levels
  • critical hours - from sunrise to two hours after sunrise, and from two hours before sunset until sunset, local time
  • critical path method - project management algorithm
  • Critical Security Parameter - information that is either user or system defined and is used to operate a cryptography module in processing encryption functions
  • Critical Success Factor - an element which is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission.


  • critical angle of attack - such that the airflow has separated from a substantial portion of the upper surface of the airfoil
  • critical area - designated area of an airport that all aircraft must remain clear of when another aircraft is inbound on an ILS approach
  • critical engine - the one whose failure would result in the most adverse effects on the aircraft's handling and performance
  • critical mach - the speed at which some of the airflow on a wing becomes supersonic.


  • Critical (novel) - a medical thriller written by Dr. Robin Cook
  • critical focus - the portion of a photograph that is optically in focus
  • critical hit - in role-playing games, a successful attack that deals more damage than a normal hit
  • critical load - of a pollutant, minimum exposure threshold for known harmful effects
  • critical section - piece of code requiring single-thread to a shared device
  • Critical Software - company specializing in mission and business critical information systems.

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