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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
  • In fact, careful studies that use the same criterion for diagnosis over time reveal no change in the prevalence of depression.
  • After each group chooses their shipwreck, direct them to apply each criterion to the wreck.
  • We have no criterion at our disposal before investigation itself furnishes one.
  • Maybe the patent examiners are not doing a good job in applying this criterion.
  • But the unobtainable-and unnecessary-criterion of absolute security dominates the public discussion.
  • One criterion for any likely candidate is that it should have occurred only once.
  • Individual rankings for each criterion can also be found in the table.
  • The size of spreads is not necessarily the only criterion of market efficiency.
  • Therefore, it seems to me that mutual intelligibility cannot be the sole criterion.
  • Cleanliness may not be next to godliness, but it is a relatively objective criterion.
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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