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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for critical point
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus in Scotland, on the critical point of jurisdiction, the position is this.

    Lux Mundi Various
  • “Chicago in fifteen minutes, suh,” said the porter, at this critical point.

    Aladdin & Co. Herbert Quick
  • The causes for the drawn battle at the critical point in the history of the struggle of the 60s will be debated while time lasts.

    Lee and Longstreet at High Tide Helen D. Longstreet
  • Where had my fine nobleman been at the critical point of his friend's misfortunes?

    Richard Carvel, Complete Winston Churchill
  • With the stage valve in operation, at a critical point the regulation is uncertain and irregular, and its use has to be abandoned.

    Steam Turbines Hubert E. Collins
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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