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Related to criticism: literary criticism, Constructive criticism


1. The act of criticizing, especially adversely.
2. A critical comment or judgment.
a. The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works.
b. A critical article or essay; a critique.
c. The investigation of the origin and history of literary documents; textual criticism.


1. the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgment, comment, etc
2. (Art Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc
3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc
4. (Art Terms) the occupation of a critic
5. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the occupation of a critic
6. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a work that sets out to evaluate or analyse
7. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) Also called: textual criticism the investigation of a particular text, with related material, in order to establish an authentic text


(ˈkrɪt əˌsɪz əm)

1. an act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
2. an act of passing severe judgment; censure.
3. an unfavorable comment or judgment.
4. the act or occupation of analyzing and evaluating a literary or artistic work, musical or dramatic performance, etc.
5. a critique.
6. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating them, evaluating their authenticity, etc.


a review or critique.
a critical theory, doctrine, or approach based upon the method used by Aristotle in the Poetics, implying a formal, logical approach to literary analysis that is centered on the work itself. Cf. Platonic criticism.
Rare. a critic of Homeric literature who claims the Iliad and the Odyssey had different authors.
a school of literary criticism that focuses on the work as an autonomous entity, whose meaning should be derived solely from an examination of the work itself. Cf. New Criticism. — contextualist, n., adj.
the type of criticism whose aim is the reduction of knowledge to descriptions of pure experience and the elimination of such aspects as metaphysics. — empiriocritical, adj.
a detailed criticism of a book, dissertation, or other writing.
a critical interpretation or explication, especially of biblical and other religious texts. — exegetic, exegetical, adj.
a critical approach, doctrine, or technique that places heavy emphasis on style, form, or technique in art or literature, seeing these as more important than or even determining content.
a critical emphasis upon style, arrangement, and artistic means with limited attention to content, — formalist, n. — formalistic, adj.
the application of the theories of the personality developed by Freud to the development of characters and other aspects of artistic creation. Cf. psychoanalytical criticism. — Freudian, n., adj.
a critical approach, doctrine, or technique that emphasizes, in evaluating a work, the genre or medium in which it can be placed rather than seeing it entirely as an autonomous entity.
the practice of unreasonable or unjustly severe criticism; faultfinding. — hypercritic, n., adj. — hypercritical, adj.
a critical approach, doctrine, or practice that applies the theories of Jungian psychology to works of art and literature, especially with regard to Jungian theories of myth, archetype, and symbol. Cf. mythic criticism.
an imitation, used in literary criticism to designate Aristotle’s theory of imitation. — mimetic, adj.
a critical approach or technique that seeks mythic meaning or imagery in literature, looking beyond the immediate context of the work in time and place. Cf. Jungian criticism.
a critical approach to literature that concentrates upon analysis and explication of individual texts and considers historical and biographical information less important than an awareness of the work’s formal structure. — New Critic, n.
an American antirealist, antinaturalist, and anti-Romantic literary and critical movement of circa 1915-1933, whose principal exponents were Babbitt, More, and Foerster, influenced by Matthew Arnold, and whose aims were to show the importance of reason and will in a context of rectitude and dignity. — new humanist, n., adj.
a critical approach or doctrine based upon and applying the ideas and values of Plato and Platonism, implying a literary analysis which finds the value of a work in its extrinsic qualities and historical context, as well as in its non-artistic usefulness. Cf. Aristotelian criticism.
a practical approach to literary criticism, in which the text is approached in universal terms with little recourse to an elaborate apparatus of reference outside the text. Cf. theoretical criticism.
an approach to criticism or a critical technique that applies the principles, theories and practices of psychoanalysis to literature, both in the analysis of the work and of the author. See also Freudianism.
in criticism, rigid or strict evaluation of a work of art or literature in terms of a code of standards of the critic or of a school of style or criticism related to or distinct from the critic, artist, or writer. See also art; language; literature. — purist, n., adj.
the action of finding one’s own faults and shortcomings. — self-critical, adj.
the close study of a particular literary work in order to establish its original text. — textual critic, n.
a critical approach or doctrine that examines a literary work in the light of certain theories of literature or uses the text as a support for the development of literary theory. Cf. practical criticism.
the practice of making bitter, carping, and belittling critical judgments. — Zoilus, Zoili, n.




  1. (They were) as critical as a fan-club —William McIlvanney
  2. Blaming X [one group of an industry] for the decline of business is like blaming the iceberg for the demise of the Titanic —Bill Soutar, Publisher’s Weekly, 1985

    Soutar was speaking specifically about poor business in his field of soft cover book distribution.

  3. Criticism is like champagne: nothing more execrable if bad, nothing more excellent if good —Charles Caleb Colton
  4. Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots —Frank A. Clark, Reader’s Digest, September, 1971
  5. Criticizing, like charity, should begin at home —B. C. Forbes
  6. Impersonal criticism is like an impersonal fist fight, or an impersonal marriage, and as successful —George Jean Nathan
  7. Like people rummaging in boxes for a knife, everyone searched deep in his memory for a grievance —Marguerite Yourcenar
  8. Long harangue [of complaints] … it was like a three-hour movie with no intermission —Elizabeth Spencer

    See Also: SLOWNESS

  9. Muttering thin complaints like little children called from play —James Crumley
  10. Rattling off her woes like mea culpas —Rita Mae Brown
  11. Safe from criticsm as a stutter or a squint —Henry James
  12. (Mothers) scolded in voices like amplified hens —Rumer Godden

    See Also: VOICES, HARSH

  13. Shot grievances like beads across an abacus —Cynthia Ozick
  14. Sounded like a cranky old man who needs a stray Airedale to kick —New York Times editorial criticizing New York Mayor Edward Koch for his remark about the Soviet government’s arrest of an American journalist, September 17, 1986
  15. Squeaking like little pigs coming out of the barn door —Congressman Dale Lotta (Ohio), April 9, 1987




blue-pencil To delete or excise, alter or abridge; to mark for correction or improvement. Used of written matter exclusively, blue-pencil derives from the blue pencil used by many editors to make manuscript changes and comments.

damn with faint praise To praise in such restrained or indifferent terms as to render the praise worthless; to condemn by using words which, at best, express mediocrity. Its first use was probably by Alexander Pope in his 1735 Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot:

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer.

peanut gallery See INSIGNIFICANCE.

pot shot A random, offhand criticism or condemnation; a censorious remark shot from the hip, lacking forethought and direction. Webster’s Third cites C. H. Page’s reference to

subjects which require serious discussion, not verbal potshots.

Pot shot originally referred to the indiscriminate, haphazard nature of shots taken at game with the simple intention of providing a meal, i.e., filling the pot. By transference, the term acquired the sense of a shot taken at a defenseless person or thing at close range from an advantageous position.

slings and arrows Barbed attacks, stinging criticism; any suffering or affliction, usually intentionally directed or inflicted. The words come from the famous soliloquy in which Hamlet contemplates suicide:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. (III, i)

As commonly used, the expression often retains the suffer of the original phrase, but usually completes the thought by substituting another object for outrageous fortune, as in the following:

En route to the United States the enterprise has suffered the slings and arrows of detractors as diverse as George Meany and Joseph Papp. (Roland Gelatt, in Saturday Review, February, 1979)

stop-watch critic A hidebound formalist, whose focus is so riveted on traditional criteria or irrelevant minutiae that he fails to attend to or even see the true and total object of his concern. Laurence Sterne gave us the term in Tristram Shandy.

“And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night?” “Oh, against all the rule, my lord, most ungrammatically. Betwixt the substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, case, and gender, he made a breach, thus—stopping as if the point wanted settling; and betwixt the nominative case, which, your lordship knows, should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen times, three seconds and three-fifths by a stop-watch, my lord, each time.”

“Admirable grammarian! But in suspending his voice was the sense suspended likewise? Did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up the chasm? Was the eye silent? Did you narrowly look?” “I looked only at the stop-watch, my lord.” “Excellent observer!”

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.criticism - disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomingscriticism - disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings; "the senator received severe criticism from his opponent"
attack - strong criticism; "he published an unexpected attack on my work"
disapproval - the expression of disapproval
brickbat - blunt criticism
carping, faultfinding - persistent petty and unjustified criticism
flack, flak, attack, blast, fire - intense adverse criticism; "Clinton directed his fire at the Republican Party"; "the government has come under attack"; "don't give me any flak"
thrust - verbal criticism; "he enlivened his editorials with barbed thrusts at politicians"
potshot - criticism aimed at an easy target and made without careful consideration; "reporters took potshots at the mayor"
rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to take the rebuke with a smile on his face"
slating - a severely critical attack; "the reviewers gave his book a sound slating"
static - angry criticism; "they will probably give you a lot of static about your editorial"
stricture - severe criticism
2.criticism - a serious examination and judgment of something; "constructive criticism is always appreciated"
critical analysis, critical appraisal - an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation
examen - a critical study (as of a writer's work)
knock, roast - negative criticism
self-criticism - criticism of yourself
3.criticism - a written evaluation of a work of literature
piece of writing, written material, writing - the work of a writer; anything expressed in letters of the alphabet (especially when considered from the point of view of style and effect); "the writing in her novels is excellent"; "that editorial was a fine piece of writing"
explication de texte - a method of literary criticism that analyzes details of a text in order to reveal its structure and meaning
textual criticism - comparison of a particular text with related materials in order to establish authenticity
new criticism - literary criticism based on close analysis of the text
analysis - a form of literary criticism in which the structure of a piece of writing is analyzed
critical review, critique, review article, review - an essay or article that gives a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)


1. fault-finding, censure, disapproval, disparagement, stick (slang), knocking (informal), panning (informal), slamming (slang), slating (informal), flak (informal), slagging (slang), strictures, bad press, denigration, brickbats (informal), character assassination, sideswipe, critical remarks, animadversion The policy had repeatedly come under strong criticism.
2. analysis, review, notice, assessment, judgment, commentary, evaluation, appreciation, appraisal, critique, elucidation Her work includes novels, poetry and literary criticism.


1. A comment expressing fault:
Informal: pan.
Slang: knock.
2. Evaluative and critical discourse:
نَقْدنَقْد، إنتِقاد
sự phê phán


[ˈkrɪtɪsɪzəm] n
(= fault-finding) → critiques fpl (= critical remark) → critique f
to come in for criticism → se faire critiquer
(= analysis) → critique f literary criticism


nKritik f; literary criticismLiteraturkritik f; to come in for a lot of criticismschwer kritisiert werden; the decision is open to criticismdas ist eine sehr anfechtbare Entscheidung


[ˈkrɪtɪsɪzm] ncritica


(ˈkritik) noun
1. a person who judges or comments on books, art etc. He is the book critic for the local newspaper.
2. a person who finds fault. His critics would say that he is unsuitable for the job.
ˈcritical adjective
1. judging and analysing. He has written several critical works on Shakespeare.
2. fault-finding. He tends to be critical of his children.
3. of, at or having the nature of, a crisis; very serious. a critical shortage of food; After the accident, his condition was critical.
ˈcritically adverb
ˈcriticize, ˈcriticise (-saiz) verb
1. to find fault (with). He's always criticizing her.
2. to give an opinion of or judgement on a book etc.
ˈcriticism noun


نَقْد kritika kritik Kritik κριτική crítica kritiikki critique kritika critica 批判 비평 kritiek kritikk krytyka crítica критика kritik การวิจารณ์ eleştiri sự phê phán 批评
References in classic literature ?
Carr was too absorbed in business to give heed to what he looked upon as a convulsion of society as natural as a geological upheaval, and too prudent to provoke the criticism of his daughters by comment in their presence.
All were characterised by the sternness and severity which old portraits so invariably put on, as if they were the ghosts, rather than the pictures, of departed worthies, and were gazing with harsh and intolerant criticism at the pursuits and enjoyments of living men.
Whereas, some merchant ships crossing each other's wake in the mid-Atlantic, will oftentimes pass on without so much as a single word of recognition, mutually cutting each other on the high seas, like a brace of dandies in Broadway; and all the time indulging, perhaps, in finical criticism upon each other's rig.
In order to give the thing vogue from the start, and place it out of the reach of criticism, I chose my nines by rank, not capacity.
Once a week the German daily of the highest class lightens up its heavy columns--that is, it thinks it lightens them up--with a profound, an abysmal, book criticism; a criticism which carries you down, down, down into the scientific bowels of the subject--for the German critic is nothing if not scientific--and when you come up at last and scent the fresh air and see the bonny daylight once more, you resolve without a dissenting voice that a book criticism is a mistaken way to lighten up a German daily.
They were men whose opinions were their own property and not subject to revision and amendment, suggestion or criticism, by anybody, even their friends.
Cobb waited until this flow of conversation, or more properly speaking this flood of criticism, had ceased, and then said jocularly:--
Elton was in continual raptures, and defended it through every criticism.
Macey, tailor and parish-clerk, the latter of which functions rheumatism had of late obliged him to share with a small-featured young man who sat opposite him, held his white head on one side, and twirled his thumbs with an air of complacency, slightly seasoned with criticism.
The effect of this disinclination, on the part of the public, towards the artificers of their pleasures, when they attempt to enlarge their means of amusing, may be seen in the censures usually passed by vulgar criticism upon actors or artists who venture to change the character of their efforts, that, in so doing, they may enlarge the scale of their art.
She, gratified by the success of her attempt to regain her old ascendancy over Jane--she had made it with misgiving, notwithstanding her apparent confidence--went downstairs to the library, where she found Sir Charles gloomily trying to drown his domestic troubles in art criticism.
There is, doubtless, a striking absurdity in supposing that a right of this kind does not exist, but we are reduced to the dilemma either of embracing that supposition, preposterous as it may seem, or of contravening or explaining away a provision, which has been of late a repeated theme of the eulogies of those who oppose the new Constitution; and the want of which, in that plan, has been the subject of much plausible animadversion, and severe criticism.