clas·​si·​cal | \ˈkla-si-kəl \

Definition of classical 

2a : of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its literature, art, architecture, or ideals classical civilization

b : versed in the classics a classical scholar

3a : of or relating to music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries characterized by an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation

b : 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

4a : authoritative, traditional

b(1) : of or relating to a form or system considered of first significance in earlier times classical Mendelian genetics

(2) : not involving relativity, wave mechanics, or quantum theory classical physics

c : conforming to a pattern of usage sanctioned by a body of literature rather than by everyday speech

5 : concerned with or giving instruction in the humanities, the fine arts, and the broad aspects of science a classical curriculum

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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

Rodgers is a jazz musician more than a classical pianist., "Fantasy Football Preseason Reports: A Scout’s Take on Every Team," 5 July 2018 In conjunction with the publication, the paper’s classical music station — WQXR — invited someone well known to recite the document on air. Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post, "‘Awe-inspiring’: Listen to Sen. John F. Kennedy read the Declaration of Independence," 4 July 2018 Expect to hear show tunes, marches, and classical pieces., "Things to do in Greater Boston this summer," 15 June 2018 The performances will feature members of both the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Opera Orchestra, and musical selections that span a range of genres, from jazz greats by Dolores Gray to classical pieces by Joseph Haydn., "Kendrick Lamar, Odunde Festival, and other great happenings, June 8-15," 7 June 2018 Her native Moldovan folk music will be played alongside Romanian, Hungarian and Transylvanian 20th century classical pieces. Mark Swed,, "The one and only Patricia Kopatchinskaja comes to the Ojai Music Festival," 31 May 2018 The gaze captured by the Deborah Oropallo painting, which layers contemporary images over classical ones, might strike kids as that of a watchful nanny but seem more coy to adult eyes. Tim Gavan, WSJ, "Five Stairways Go From Dull to Dramatic," 13 July 2018 Since then, Lang Lang has achieved global popularity and, back home in China, has been credited with inspiring millions of kids to take up Western classical piano — aided by the formation of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. David Patrick Stearns,, "Lang Lang's recovery: Will he ever play in Philly again?," 12 July 2018 Lovers of classical music are some of the most intellectually curious and culturally adventurous people around. Patrick Neas, kansascity, "KC Fringe Festival brings an adventurous spirit to classical themes," 13 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of classical

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for classical

Latin classicus

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Statistics for classical

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for classical

The first known use of classical was in 1546

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English Language Learners Definition of classical

: of a kind that has been respected for a long time

: of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its language, literature, art, etc.

: relating to music in a European tradition that includes opera and symphony and that is generally considered more serious than other kinds of music


clas·​si·​cal | \ˈkla-si-kəl \

Kids Definition of classical

1 : of a kind that has long been considered great classical ballet

2 : of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its language and arts

3 : relating to music in a European tradition that includes opera and symphony and that is generally considered more serious than other kinds of music

4 : concerned with a general study of the arts and sciences a classical education

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Comments on classical

What made you want to look up classical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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