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n. pl. cri·te·ri·a (-tîr′ē-ə) or cri·te·ri·ons
A standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based.

[Greek kritērion, from kritēs, judge, from krīnein, to separate, judge; see krei- in Indo-European roots.]

cri·te′ri·al (-əl) adj.
Usage Note: Like phenomenon, criterion comes directly from Greek and is singular. In standard usage, the plural is generally criteria, although criterions is sometimes used as well. Properly speaking, the form criteria should never be a singular noun, and phrases like this criteria and single criteria are widely viewed as erroneous. Similarly, the plural criterias is also viewed as a mistake and is usually edited out of published prose.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -ria (-rɪə) or -rions
1. a standard by which something can be judged or decided
2. (Philosophy) philosophy a defining characteristic of something
[C17: from Greek kritērion from kritēs judge, from krinein to decide]
Usage: Criteria, the plural of criterion, is not acceptable as a singular noun: this criterion is not valid; these criteria are not valid
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(kraɪˈtɪər i ən)

n., pl. -te•ri•a (-ˈtɪər i ə)
a standard of judgment or criticism; a rule or principle for evaluating or testing something.
[1605–15; < Greek kritḗrion a standard =kri-, variant s. of krinein to separate, decide + -tērion neuter suffix of means (akin to Latin -tōrium -tory2)]
cri•te′ri•al, adj.
usage: 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: These are the criteria for the selection of candidates. Although criteria is sometimes used as a singular, esp. in speech, it is most often used as a plural in Standard English. See also media1, phenomenon.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



(See also TEST.)

acid test Any crucial or conclusive test to judge value or genuineness; the “real” test. The term is an extension of a chemical test using nitric acid or aqua fortis, as it is sometimes called, to determine the gold content of jewelry. Used literally in 1892 in G. F. Gee’s The Jeweller’s Assistant, the expression was first used in its figurative sense in 1912:

Few professional beauties could have stood, as this woman did, the acid test of that mercilessly brilliant morning. (L. J. Vance, Destroying Angel, 1912)


bench mark A standard or touchstone against which to measure; a criterion or test. A bench mark is literally a surveyor’s arrow-shaped mark indicating a given elevation used as a point of reference in measuring other elevations. According to the OED the name comes from the way a surveyor’s angle-iron forms a bracket or bench to support the leveling-staff when taking a reading. The term was used figuratively as early as 1884 in Science:

These star-places … are the reference-points and benchmarks of the universe.

landmark decision A verdict issued by a high court (e.g., the Supreme Court) which determines the direction or disposition of a previously untried issue; a precedent-setting ruling. Traditionally, a landmark is a guide for direction in one’s course, or, metaphorically, an event that marks a turning point in history. As an adjective, landmark has come to describe any decision or legislation of such significance that it will serve as a guide or criterion in similar matters in the future.

play in Peoria To be accepted by the common man of “Middle America.” Peoria, a small town in central Illinois, has come to represent traditional, down-to-earth American values, perhaps originally from the experiences of traveling theater troupes in playing to small town audiences. Today the expression is most often heard in the political context; “playing in Peoria” successfully has become the touchstone for determining an idea’s appeal to the American public at large.

Procrustean bed An arbitrary system or standard to which ideas, facts, etc., are forced to conform. In Greek mythology, the robber Procrustes made his victims fit the length of his bed by stretching or amputating their limbs. Thus, to stretch or place on the bed of Procrustes is to produce conformity by violent, irrational means. Figurative use of Procrustean bed dates from the 16th century.

Neither must we attempt to confine the Platonic dialogue on the Procrustean bed of a single idea. (Benjamin Jowett, tr., The Dialogues of Plato, 1875)

the proof of the pudding is in the eating A proverbial admonition against passing judgment on something without first examining the evidence or facts; often shortened to the proof of the pudding. Another popular proverb conveying basically the same message is the imperative don’t judge a book by its cover.

rule of thumb A rough guide or approximate measurement; a practical criterion or standard. The thumb’s breadth was formerly used in measurements to approximate one inch. Since such reckoning was imprecise and unscientific, rule of thumb has come also to indicate a guideline resulting from instinct rather than from scientific investigation. The phrase has been in figurative use for nearly three centuries.

What he doth, he doth by rule of thumb, and not by Art. (Sir William Hope, The Compleat Fencing-Master, 1692)

sounding board A person to whom new concepts and ideas are presented for his reaction or opinion. A sounding board is a structure which reflects sound back to an audience. Its figurative usage was illustrated in Atlantic, as cited by Webster’s Third:

… use the newspapermen merely as a sounding board.

touchstone A criterion or test; a standard or measure. A touchstone is literally a smooth, black, siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold and silver alloys. By rubbing the alloy on the stone and analyzing the color of the streak on the stone, the gold or silver content can be determined. The term was used both literally and figuratively as early as the mid-15th century.

trial balloon Literally, a balloon which is used to test air currents and wind velocity. By extension, a trial balloon is any specific proposal, statement, etc., used to test public reaction by provoking feedback.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A criterion is a standard by which you judge or evaluate something.

The most important criterion for entry is that applicants must design their own work.

The plural of criterion is criteria.

The Commission did not apply the same criteria to advertising.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.criterion - a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; "the schools comply with federal standards"; "they set the measure for all subsequent work"
benchmark - a standard by which something can be measured or judged; "his painting sets the benchmark of quality"
earned run average, ERA - (baseball) a measure of a pitcher's effectiveness; calculated as the average number of earned runs allowed by the pitcher for every nine innings pitched
GPA, grade point average - a measure of a student's academic achievement at a college or university; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted
procrustean bed, procrustean rule, procrustean standard - a standard that is enforced uniformly without regard to individuality
yardstick - a measure or standard used for comparison; "on what kind of yardstick is he basing his judgment?"
medium of exchange, monetary system - anything that is generally accepted as a standard of value and a measure of wealth in a particular country or region
system of measurement, metric - a system of related measures that facilitates the quantification of some particular characteristic
graduated table, ordered series, scale, scale of measurement - an ordered reference standard; "judging on a scale of 1 to 10"
standard of measurement, gauge - accepted or approved instance or example of a quantity or quality against which others are judged or measured or compared
baseline - an imaginary line or standard by which things are measured or compared; "the established a baseline for the budget"
norm - a standard or model or pattern regarded as typical; "the current middle-class norm of two children per family"
2.criterion - the ideal in terms of which something can be judged; "they live by the standards of their community"
control condition, control - a standard against which other conditions can be compared in a scientific experiment; "the control condition was inappropriate for the conclusions he wished to draw"
ideal - the idea of something that is perfect; something that one hopes to attain
design criteria - criteria that designers should meet in designing some system or device; "the job specifications summarized the design criteria"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun standard, test, rule, measure, principle, proof, par, norm, canon, gauge, yardstick, touchstone, bench mark Exam results shouldn't be the only criterion for your choice of school.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


A means by which individuals are compared and judged:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
مِعْيارمِعْيار، مِقياس
forsenda; viîmiîun
tiêu chí


[kraɪˈtɪərɪən] N (criterions or criteria (pl)) [kraɪˈtɪərɪə]criterio m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[kraɪˈtɪərɪən] [criteria] [kraɪˈtɪərɪə] (pl) ncritère m
selection criteria → critères de sélection
eligibility criteria → critères d'éligibilité
to meet the criteria for sth → répondre aux critères de qch
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


n pl <criteria> → Kriterium nt; then, by the same criterion, he is guilty toodann ist er ebenso schuldig
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[kraɪˈtɪərɪən] n (criteria (pl)) [kraɪˈtɪərɪə]criterio
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(kraiˈtiəriən) plural criˈteria (-ə) noun
a standard used or referred to in judging something. What are your criteria for deciding which words to include in this dictionary?
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


مِعْيار kritérium kriterium Kriterium κριτήριο criterio kriteeri critère kriterij criterio 基準 기준 criterium kriterium kryterium critério критерий kriterium เกณฑ์ ölçüt tiêu chí 标准
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
I believe the third of these to be the only universally applicable criterion. The other two are applicable in very many cases, but cannot be used for purposes of definition because they are liable to exceptions.
If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.
Though the certainty of this criterion is far from demonstrable, yet it has the savor of analogical probability.
There is then in all persons a natural impetus to associate with each other in this manner, and he who first founded civil society was the cause of the greatest good; for as by the completion of it man is the most excellent of all living beings, so without law and justice he would be the worst of all, for nothing is so difficult to subdue as injustice in arms: but these arms man is born with, namely, prudence and valour, which he may apply to the most opposite purposes, for he who abuses them will be the most wicked, the most cruel, the most lustful, and most gluttonous being imaginable; for justice is a political virtue, by the rules of it the state is regulated, and these rules are the criterion of what is right.
Some lesser points of the dialogue may be noted, such as (1) the acute observation that Meno prefers the familiar definition, which is embellished with poetical language, to the better and truer one; or (2) the shrewd reflection, which may admit of an application to modern as well as to ancient teachers, that the Sophists having made large fortunes; this must surely be a criterion of their powers of teaching, for that no man could get a living by shoemaking who was not a good shoemaker; or (3) the remark conveyed, almost in a word, that the verbal sceptic is saved the labour of thought and enquiry (ouden dei to toiouto zeteseos).
If we therefore take his ideas on this point as the criterion of truth, we shall be driven to the alternative either of taking refuge at once in the arms of monarchy, or of splitting ourselves into an infinity of little, jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths, the wretched nurseries of unceasing discord, and the miserable objects of universal pity or contempt.
It was the feeling that induces a volunteer recruit to spend his last penny on drink, and a drunken man to smash mirrors or glasses for no apparent reason and knowing that it will cost him all the money he possesses: the feeling which causes a man to perform actions which from an ordinary point of view are insane, to test, as it were, his personal power and strength, affirming the existence of a higher, nonhuman criterion of life.
At the "Criterion" he turned in and had a drink, and, bolder for the wine which he had swallowed at a gulp, he told himself that he would do nothing of the sort.
Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing.
He even declined to admit the idea privately into his mind, until he had first tested his condition by an infallible criterion of his own.
On the other hand, I compared the disquisitions of the ancient moralists to very towering and magnificent palaces with no better foundation than sand and mud: they laud the virtues very highly, and exhibit them as estimable far above anything on earth; but they give us no adequate criterion of virtue, and frequently that which they designate with so fine a name is but apathy, or pride, or despair, or parricide.
My reading had given me criterions different from those of the simple life of our village, and I did not flatter myself that my calling would have been thought one of great social dignity in the world where I hoped some day to make my living.