Entries linking to uncritical
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
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.
updated on April 07, 2014