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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for criteria
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There are three criteria of goodness—beauty, symmetry, truth.

    Philebus Plato
  • It concerns in part the criteria of valuation in the field of the social life.

    The Psychology of Nations G.E. Partridge
  • The grounds for rejecting the criteria of the Roman law have been shown above.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • These, it is said, are the criteria of progress; all else is misleading.

    The Complete Essays of C. D. Warner Charles Dudley Warner
  • The main technique is study and constant reexamination of criteria.

    The Armed Forces Officer

    U. S. Department of Defense
British Dictionary definitions for criteria


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 criteria

1620s, plural of criterion (q.v.).



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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