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[krahy-teer-ee-uh n] /kraɪˈtɪər i ən/
noun, plural criteria
[krahy-teer-ee-uh] /kraɪˈtɪər i ə/ (Show IPA),
a standard of judgment or criticism; a rule or principle for evaluating or testing something.
Origin of criterion
1605-15; < Greek kritḗrion a standard, equivalent to kri- variant stem of krī́nein to separate, decide + -tērion neuter suffix of means (akin to Latin -tōrium -tory2)
Related forms
criterial, adjective
Can be confused
criteria, criterion (see usage note at the current entry)
measure, touchstone, yardstick. See standard.
Usage note
Like some other nouns borrowed from the Greek, criterion has both a Greek plural, criteria, and a plural formed on the English pattern, criterions. The plural in -a occurs with far greater frequency than does the -s plural: These are the criteria for the selection of candidates. Although criteria is sometimes used as a singular, most often in speech and only infrequently in edited prose, in standard English, it is more clearly used as a plural with criterion as the singular. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for criterion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am well aware that such a vulgar test is no criterion whatever of a picture's real merit.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • And the criterion which he proposes is difference in the working of the faculties.

    The Republic Plato
  • This faith, duly directed by reason, constitutes one criterion of truth.

  • These will be the criterion of the comparative claims of pleasure and wisdom.

    Philebus Plato
  • There is no criterion of truth, either in sense or in reason.

British Dictionary definitions for criterion


noun (pl) -ria (-rɪə), -rions
a standard by which something can be judged or decided
(philosophy) a defining characteristic of something
Usage note
Criteria, the plural of criterion, is not acceptable as a singular noun: this criterion is not valid; these criteria are not valid
Word Origin
C17: from Greek kritērion from kritēs judge, from krinein to decide
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for criterion

1660s, from Latinized form of Greek kriterion "means for judging, standard," from krites "judge," from PIE root *krei- (see crisis). Used in English as a Greek word from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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