clas·​si·​cal ˈkla-si-kəl How to pronounce classical (audio)
: of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its literature, art, architecture, or ideals
classical civilization
: versed in the classics
a classical scholar
: of or relating to music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries characterized by an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation
: of, relating to, or being music in the educated European tradition that includes such forms as art song, chamber music, opera, and symphony as distinguished from folk or popular music or jazz
: of or relating to a form or system considered of first significance in earlier times
classical Mendelian genetics
: not involving relativity, wave mechanics, or quantum theory
classical physics
: conforming to a pattern of usage sanctioned by a body of literature rather than by everyday speech
: concerned with or giving instruction in the humanities, the fine arts, and the broad aspects of science
a classical curriculum

Examples of classical in a Sentence

the classical preparation of a ham for Easter a writer celebrated for his classical profiles of eminent Victorians
Recent Examples on the Web The singer loves an ensemble cast, and Black women working in American classical music represent an especially rich reservoir of talent — especially undertapped since the pandemic. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2024 The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles are making waves in the classical music industry through their bestselling recordings of Gregorian chant, a serene, centuries-old music that has found a large and receptive audience in our current Age of Anxiety. Patrick Neas, Kansas City Star, 29 Mar. 2024 Across Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé honors pioneers — both celebrated and forgotten — within country music but also dips into rock, classical music, and opera. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 29 Mar. 2024 The Cravings author also shared glimpses of their date night at the event, including a shot of herself and the Grammy winner walking hand-in-hand at the hotel while classical music played. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 28 Mar. 2024 One loophole remains intact, though: classical music composed before 1922 can be played without regulation. Julia Coin, Charlotte Observer, 25 Mar. 2024 All told, the concert attested to Bartók’s ascension, four years after his death, to the classical pantheon. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 Making quantum computers that can solve useful problems beyond the scope of even the mightiest of today’s classical supercomputers demands scaling them up even more — to perhaps many tens or hundreds of thousands of qubits. Philip Ball, Quanta Magazine, 25 Mar. 2024 McGegan, Chanticleer, SSV Conductor Nicholas McGegan’s return to lead the Cantata Collective in three Bach masterworks; radiant vocals; and film music in concert top this weekend’s classical music calendar, which has delights for every audience. Randy McMullen, The Mercury News, 20 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'classical.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin classicus

First Known Use

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of classical was in 1546

Dictionary Entries Near classical

Cite this Entry

“Classical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


clas·​si·​cal ˈklas-i-kəl How to pronounce classical (audio)
: of or relating to the classics of literature or art
especially : of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman classics
classical studies
: of or relating to serious music in the European tradition
: of or relating to tradition : authentic
: concerned with a general study of the arts and sciences and not specializing in technical studies
a classical high school

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