his·​tor·​ic | \ hi-ˈstȯr-ik How to pronounce historic (audio) , -ˈstär- \

Definition of historic

: historical: such as
a : famous or important in history historic battlefields
b : having great and lasting importance a historic occasion
c : known or established in the past historic interest rates
d : dating from or preserved from a past time or culture historic buildings historic artifacts

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historic or historical?

Do you experience a slight pause before using either of these words as you try to remember which one is correct and whether it should be preceded by an or a? If so, you’re not alone, for many people find this pair particularly tricky. Historic and historical are both occasionally found preceded by an, since the initial h in each word was formerly left unpronounced. Now this h is heard, and a is far more common than an (by a ratio of about 4 to 1 in American English).

Historic and historical have been used interchangeably by many writers, even in recent years. If you would like to avoid being corrected, however, use historical for matters relating to history (the historical society), and historic to refer to things having great and lasting importance (a historic occasion).

Examples of historic in a Sentence

It's wonderful to see so many people here on this historic occasion. She returned safely from her historic flight into space. The court made a historic decision last week. They know of many historic volcanic eruptions in the area. the historic importance of the river
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Recent Examples on the Web Pundits predicted a blue tsunami of historic proportions that would carry Democrats into the White... Karl Rove, WSJ, "This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned," 11 Nov. 2020 The preservation tax credits would help pay for restoring the buildings while preserving the original brick work and other historic aspects. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Zoning change wins early OK for 300 apartments -- most of them affordable -- in Milwaukee's Harbor District," 9 Nov. 2020 The disdain for President Trump as Californians gave challenger Joe Biden a victory in the state of historic proportions. Dan Walters, SFChronicle.com, "Lessons from the California vote: state not as deep blue as many believe," 6 Nov. 2020 The latest data confirms 10 straight weeks where the weekly total has fallen below 1 million, after months of historic highs that peaked at a record 7 million first-time unemployment claims in the spring. NBC News, "Around 751,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week," 5 Nov. 2020 The hurricane center also said Eta is expected to strengthen and could possibly become a Category 5 storm of historic proportions. Editors, USA TODAY, "Election Day, Hurricane Eta, NFL's trade deadline: 5 things to know Tuesday," 3 Nov. 2020 The area is home to about 500 residential eagles that attract visitors year-round, most especially in the fall when migrating birds up the count to historic highs of 3,000. Jenna Kunze, Smithsonian Magazine, "Behold America’s Largest Congregation of Bald Eagles," 3 Nov. 2020 With the pandemic, mail voting will be at historic highs, but Florida has more experience counting mail ballots than some other states. Skyler Swisher, sun-sentinel.com, "Has Florida learned how to vote? Here’s what has changed since the 2000 and 2018 recounts," 1 Nov. 2020 The president has alienated women to the point where this election is likely to produce a gender gap of historic proportions. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | KAREN TUMULTY: Trump is a known quantity," 31 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'historic.' 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 historic

1594, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for historic

Time Traveler

The first known use of historic was in 1594

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Statistics for historic

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Historic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/historic. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for historic


How to pronounce historic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of historic

: famous or important in history
: having great and lasting importance
: happening or existing in the past


his·​tor·​ic | \ hi-ˈstȯr-ik How to pronounce historic (audio) \

Kids Definition of historic

: famous in history

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Comments on historic

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