According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "criticize" has two meanings

to express disapproval of someone or something

to give an opinion or judgment about a book, movie, etc

Consider this

The government just published a new policy on housing prices. He's writing an article to criticize it.

Which meaning of "criticize" should I go with? I guess it is the former as it's a policy rather than literature or art.

Is my understanding correct?

The guy writing the article is trying to make a comment to the policy, such as the housing prices increasing due to the policy.

To convey the idea without causing ambiguity, which word could be substituted for "criticize"?

  • 2
    If it is an article, it should be a reasoned and balanced argument, and if so I would say it is the second. If it is a one-sided rant, then the first. Jun 27, 2020 at 10:28
  • 3
    Criticism of books, movies, etc. is literary criticism. Nobody engages in literary critique of political policy documents - all we care about there is whether we agree with the ideology, not the "artistry". But if that meaning was intended in some context where it wouldn't be the default interpretation, the best way to indicate that is to just switch the verb from criticize to critique. Jun 27, 2020 at 11:27
  • Perhaps all criticism of policy is ideological. I prefer to think that at least some is based on an assessment of effectiveness. Jul 5, 2020 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


I would probably combine the two into:

to express disapproval or judgment about a book, movie, etc.

  • This doesn't really answer the question. It just gives a third (and in my opinion less useful) definition of "criticise". Your answer should try to explain 1) is the OP's understanding of criticise correct (why or why not) and 2) How to rephrase to avoid ambiguity (if any exists, or else why no ambiguity exists.)
    – James K
    Feb 27, 2022 at 18:45

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