[ krahy-teer-ee-uhn ]
/ kraɪˈtɪər i ən /

noun, plural cri·te·ri·a [krahy-teer-ee-uh] /kraɪˈtɪər i ə/, cri·te·ri·ons.

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

cri·te·ri·al, adjective

Can be confused

criteria criterion (see usage note at the current entry)

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for criterion

British Dictionary definitions for criterion


/ (kraɪˈtɪərɪən) /

noun plural -ria (-rɪə) or -rions

a standard by which something can be judged or decided
philosophy a defining characteristic of something

Word Origin for criterion

C17: from Greek kritērion from kritēs judge, from krinein to decide


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 & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012