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1580s, "one who passes judgment," from Middle French critique (14c.), from Latin criticus "a judge, literary critic," from Greek kritikos "able to make judgments," from krinein "to separate, decide" (see crisis). Meaning "one who judges merits of books, plays, etc." is from c.1600. The English word always had overtones of "censurer, faultfinder."
To understand how the artist felt, however, is not criticism; criticism is an investigation of what the work is good for. ... Criticism ... is a serious and public function; it shows the race assimilating the individual, dividing the immortal from the mortal part of a soul. [George Santayana, "The Life of Reason," 1906]
A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ;
[Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," 1709]