Friday, September 6, 2019

Is there a difference between "crucial" and "critical?"


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.
critical care

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.


From: On The Road

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Author: Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), American novelist and poet
Published: 1957

Jack Kerouac

From: Invisible Man

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat."

Author: Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), American novelist, literary critic and scholar
Published: 1952

Ralph Ellison

- Joanne