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critical point

Physics. the point at which a substance in one phase, as the liquid, has the same density, pressure, and temperature as in another phase, as the gaseous.
  1. (of a function of a single variable) a point at which the derivative of the function is zero.
  2. (of a function of several variables) a point at which all partial derivatives of the function are zero.
Origin of critical point
First recorded in 1875-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for critical point
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But she was at a critical point in her career and she knew it.

    Girls and Women Harriet E. Paine (AKA E. Chester}
  • “Chicago in fifteen minutes, suh,” said the porter, at this critical point.

    Aladdin & Co. Herbert Quick
  • He had evidently reached a critical point in his undertaking.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • Where had my fine nobleman been at the critical point of his friend's misfortunes?

    Richard Carvel, Complete Winston Churchill
  • Here we reach perhaps the most critical point in the whole inquiry.

British Dictionary definitions for critical point

critical point

  1. the point on a phase diagram that represents the critical state of a substance
  2. another name for critical state
(maths) the US name for stationary point
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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critical point in Science
critical point  
  1. Physics The temperature and pressure at which the liquid and gaseous phases of a pure substance become unstable and fluctuate locally within the substance. The critical point of water is at a temperature of 374°C (705.2°F) and a pressure of 218 atmospheres, at which point it becomes opaque. Compare triple point.

  2. Mathematics

    1. A maximum, minimum, or point of inflection of a curve.

    2. A point at which the derivative of a function is zero, infinite, or undefined.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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