In the field of nuclear science a critical fission reactor or reaction is one in which the neutron count remains stable from one generation to the next, signifying no change in power level.

See Also: sub-critical, super-critical

Crit"ic*al (kr?t"?-kal), a. [See Critic, n., Crisis.]


Qualified to criticise, or pass judgment upon, literary or artistic productions.

It is submitted to the judgment of more critical ears to direct and determine what is graceful and what is not. Holder.


Pertaining to criticism or the critic's art; of the nature of a criticism; accurate; as, critical knowledge; a critical dissertation.


Inclined to make nice distinctions, or to exercise careful judgment and selection; exact; nicely judicious.

Virgil was so critical in the rites of religion. that he would never have brought in such prayers as these, if they had not been agreeable to the Roman customs. Bp. Stillingfleet.


Inclined to criticise or find fault; fastidious; captious; censorious; exacting.

O gentle lady, do not put me to 't, For I am nothing, if not critical. Shak.


Characterized by thoroughness and a reference to principles, as becomes a critic; as, a critical analysis of a subject.

6. [See Crisis.]

Pertaining to, or indicating, a crisis, turning point, or specially important juncture; important as regards consequences; hence, of doubtful issue; attended with risk; dangerous; as, the critical stage of a fever; a critical situation.

Our circumstances are indeed critical. Burke.

The small moment, the exact point, the critical minute, on which every good work so much depends. South.

Critical angle Optics, that angle of incidence of a luminous ray at which it is wholly reflected, and no portion of it transmitted. The sine of this angle is the reciprocal of the refractive index of the medium. -- Critical philosophy, the metaphysical system of Kant; -- so called from his most important work, the "Critique of Pure Reason." -- Critical point Physics, a certain temperature, different for different gases, but always the same for each gas, regarded as the limit above which no amount of pressure can produce condensation to a liquid.


© Webster 1913.

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