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A critic is a professional who communicates an assessment and an opinion of various forms of creative works such as art, literature, music, cinema, theatre, fashion, architecture, and food. Critics may also take as their subject social or government policy. Critical judgments, whether derived from critical thinking or not, weigh up a range of factors, including an assessment of the extent to which the item under review achieves its purpose and its creator's intention and a knowledge of its context. They may also include a positive or negative personal response.

Characteristics of a good critic are articulateness, preferably having the ability to use language with a high level of appeal and skill.

Critics are publicly accepted and, to a significant degree, followed because of the quality of their assessments or their reputation.

Unlike other individuals who may editorialize on subjects via websites or letters written to publications, professional critics are paid to produce their assessment and opinions for print, radio, magazine, television, or Internet companies.

Critics are themselves subject to competing critics, since the final critical judgment always entails some subjectivity. An established critic can play a powerful role as a public arbiter of taste or opinion. Also, critics or a coordinated group of critics, may award symbols of recognition.


The word "critic" comes from Greek κριτικός(kritikós), meaning 'able to discern',[2] which is a Greek derivation of the word κριτής (krités), meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation or observation.[3] Early English meaning of criticism was based mainly on the criticism of literature and it was in the 17th century that more general forms of criticism began.

Critics' views of criticism

Cultural critic Clement Greenberg wrote that a good critic excels through "insights into the evidence … and by … loyalty to the relevant"; poet and critic T.S. Eliot wrote "a critic must have a very highly developed sense of fact".[4]

In 1971, Harold C. Schonberg, chief music critic of The New York Times from 1960 to 1980, said that he wrote for himself, ''not necessarily for readers, not for musicians....It's not a critic's job to be right or wrong; it's his job to express an opinion in readable English.''[5] Schonberg was the first music critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

Daniel Mendelsohn described the equation of criticism for critics as knowledge + taste = meaningful judgement.[6][7]

Restaurant critic Terry Durack explained that from a critic "you hope for a thorough, objective and legitimate discussion" that puts "opera, art or book into context, so that it adds to your own body of knowledge"; in the context of a restaurant criticism, this means it is "not about me liking it or not; it's about me helping you decide whether you are going to like it or not."[8]

Social and political critics

Social and political critics have used various forms of art to express their criticism, including literature and music.

Online critics

Several websites have developed for the purpose of compiling or publishing original critical reviews.

Cinematography and television

The American film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel collaborated and appeared on television sometimes agreeing on their review of cinematographic works; sometimes they would differ.

Film critics may use star classification to qualify the reviewed works.

Characters depicting critics have been part of some movies, and have been represented in comedies, such as a food critic in the animated fantasy-comedy Ratatouille, and as an art critic in one of the initial parts of the anthology comedy film The History of the World Part I

Responses to critics

People whose work is the subject of criticism have a full range of responses to it.

See also

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