formerly critick, 1580s, "one who passes judgment, person skilled in judging merit in some particular class of things," from French critique (14c.), from Latin criticus "a judge, a censor, an estimator," also "grammarian who detects spurious passages in literary work," from Greek kritikos "able to make judgments," from krinein "to separate, decide" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). The meaning "one who judges merits of books, plays, etc." is from c. 1600. The English word always has had overtones of "censurer, faultfinder, one who judges severely."
To understand how the artist felt, however, is not criticism; criticism is an investigation of what the work is good for. ... Criticism ... is a serious and public function; it shows the race assimilating the individual, dividing the immortal from the mortal part of a soul. [George Santayana, "The Life of Reason," 1906]
A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ;
[Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," 1709]
For "inferior or incompetent critic" 17c. had criticaster; later generations used criticling, critikin, criticule.
"critical examination or review of the merits of something," 1702, restored French spelling of 17c. critick "art of criticism" (see critic), ultimately from Greek kritikē tekhnē "the critical art." As a verb, "to write or deliver a critique," 1751. Related: Critiqued; critiquing.
1640s, "to pass judgment (usually unfavorable) on something," from critic + -ize. Meaning "to discuss critically" is from 1660s; that of "to censure, point out defects or faults in" is from 1704. Related: Criticized; criticizing. The earlier verb for "to criticize" was simply critic (c. 1600), from French critiquer.
1580s, "censorious, inclined to find fault," from critic + -al (1). Sense of "important or essential for determining" is from c. 1600, originally in medicine. Meaning "of the nature of a crisis, in a condition of extreme doubt or danger" is from 1660s; that of "involving judgment as to the truth or merit of something" is from 1640s; that of "having the knowledge, ability, or discernment to pass judgment" is from 1640s. Meaning "pertaining to criticism" is from 1741.
Related: Criticality (1756; in the nuclear sense, 1950); critically (1650s, "accurately;" 1815, "in a critical situation"). In nuclear science, critical mass is attested from 1940.
c. 1600, "action of criticizing, discrimination or discussion of merit, character or quality; a critical remark or disquisition," from critic + -ism. Meaning "art of judging of and defining the qualities or merits of a thing," especially "estimating literary or artistic worth" is from 1670s. Meaning "inquiry into the history and authenticity of a text" (the sense in higher criticism) is from 1660s.
In the first place, I must take leave to tell them that they wholly mistake the Nature of Criticism who think its business is principally to find fault. Criticism, as it was first instituted by Aristotle, was meant a Standard of judging well. The chiefest part of which is, to observe those Excellencies which should delight a reasonable Reader. [Dryden, preface to "State of Innocence," 1677]
It forms all or part of: ascertain; certain; concern; concert; crime; criminal; crisis; critic; criterion; decree; diacritic; discern; disconcert; discreet; discriminate; endocrine; excrement; excrete; garble; hypocrisy; incertitude; recrement; recriminate; riddle (n.2) "coarse sieve;" secret; secretary.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek krinein "to separate, decide, judge," krinesthai "to explain;" Latin cribrum "sieve," crimen "judgment, crime," cernere "to sift, distinguish, separate;" Old Irish criathar, Old Welsh cruitr "sieve;" Middle Irish crich "border, boundary;" Old English hriddel "sieve."
in reference to a style of painting aiming to represent overall impressions as they first strike the eye rather than exact details, 1876 (adjective and noun), from French, coined 1874 by French critic Louis Leroy ("école impressionniste") in a disparaging reference to Monet's sunset painting "Impression, Soleil Levant." Later extended to other arts.