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

The news that the plant was going into hibernation over the summer brought the state's cushion of reserve electricity down to an historic low of 7.4 percent, just over half of ERCOT's reserve margin goal of 13.75 percent. Houston Chronicle, "Say goodbye to another Texas coal-fired power plant," 3 July 2019 In Oregon, the jobless rate has remained near a historic low below 4.5% for the past 31 months even as the higher minimum wages took effect. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive.com, "Oregon employers adapt to successive minimum wage hikes," 30 June 2019 Kansas has had the lowest attendance for all Power 5 schools since 2016, dropping to a historic low of 19,424 per game in 2018 — nearly a 10,000-person difference from 2015. Amie Just, nola.com, "The Les Miles Show brings signs of life, hope to Kansas football program," 28 June 2019 On Tuesday, the University of Hong Kong said Mrs. Lam’s popularity rating had fell in the past two weeks to a historic low for the position of chief executive. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "Why Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Turning to G-20 Leaders for Help," 26 June 2019 The Administration continues to ratchet the economic pressure that has plunged Iran’s oil exports to historic lows. John Walcott, Time, "The U.S. and Iran Are Backing Down From a Fight, Rhetorically," 21 June 2019 In some European countries, social democratic parties have practically disappeared from the political scene, and even in former strongholds like Germany and Scandinavia their vote shares are at historic lows. Sheri Berman, Vox, "The development and decay of democracy," 18 June 2019 This was a truly historic moment for black people in Ecuador. Charles David Kleymeyer, Smithsonian, "Meet Juan García Salazar, the Man Who Championed Black Identity in Ecuador," 14 June 2019 Tickets for Wednesday’s game were the most expensive in the city’s history, because this could’ve been a historic moment. Charlotte Wilder, SI.com, "Bruins' Stanley Cup Loss A Sobering Experience for Boston Fans," 13 June 2019

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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Statistics for historic

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for historic

The first known use of historic was in 1594

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More Definitions for historic



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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More from Merriam-Webster on historic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with historic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for historic

Spanish Central: Translation of historic

Nglish: Translation of historic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of historic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on historic

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


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