The words "crucial" and "critical" are used interchangeably. Yet there is an important distinction between them. One of the meanings of "criticaL," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is "TURNING POINT," as in the following:
CRITICAL: of relating to or being a turning point or specially important juncture
a critical phase such as
relating to or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be expected..
also: being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger or death.
a patient listed in critical condition
Crucial and critical are adjectives relating to something important, significant or vital. However "critical" implies something much more serious. We say that after a heart attack, a person is in "critical condition" NOT "crucial condition." The outcome of a particular basketball game is "crucial" for a team's chances of making the playoffs, but it is NOT "critical." It is not a matter of life or death.
The difference betwen "crucial" and "critical" is a matter of degree, but there is a distinction.
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