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

Example Sentences

the classical preparation of a ham for Easter a writer celebrated for his classical profiles of eminent Victorians
Recent Examples on the Web San Diego Opera and La Jolla Music Society co-present this classical vocal music and guitar concert. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Nov. 2022 The downside is the usually difficult transition into sight-reading, a necessity for the majority of musicians, and especially for those who wish to move on to the highest levels of Western classical music. The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 As the charismatic, manipulative, and wildly talented composer Lydia Tár, Cate Blanchett blows her fellow best-actress contenders out of the water in Todd Field’s fascinating study of abuses of power in the rarefied world of classical music. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 27 Nov. 2022 Los Angeles was one of the centers of the pop-music universe in her teenage years, but her parents essentially banned her from listening to anything but classical music. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2022 Price, widely recognized as the first Black female classical composer of note, returns to the schedule in November, as Bignamini conducts her Symphony No. 1. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 21 Oct. 2022 She was introduced to Gordon, a classical music composer and fourth son of oil magnate J. Paul Getty, at a bar by Bill Newsom (California Governor Gavin Newsom’s father) and his sister Barbara. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, 19 Oct. 2022 The design of the new Petrow home by architectural and design firm Sparano + Mooney included classical elements such as the fins on the exterior and the courtyard, with its oval cutout in the ceiling. Nancy Keates, WSJ, 14 Sep. 2022 The home’s monumental fireplace, which brings together the four classical elements of earth, air, fire and water, has been restored, as have the art-glass balcony doors in the master bedroom. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 7 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'classical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

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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