MEANING: noun: The minimum amount or number of something required to initiate or sustain a process or effect.

ETYMOLOGY: From nuclear physics where critical mass is the smallest amount of nuclear material needed for a chain reaction. Earliest documented use: 1941.

CRITICAL MISS - blowing the foul shot that would have won the NBA title

CRITICAL MAS - according to them, no girl could ever be good enough for their son

CRIPTICAL MASS - a pseudo-religious ritual that is held in a mausoleum