his·​tor·​i·​cal | \ hi-ˈstȯr-i-kəl How to pronounce historical (audio) , -ˈstär- \

Definition of historical

1a : of, relating to, or having the character of history historical data
b : based on history historical novels
c : used in the past and reproduced in historical presentations
2 : famous in history : historic sense a
b : diachronic historical grammar

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Other Words from historical

historicalness \ hi-​ˈstȯr-​i-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce historical (audio) , -​ˈstär-​ \ noun

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 historical in a Sentence

He strove for historical accuracy in the movie. The kings are listed in historical order.
Recent Examples on the Web Oliver probes words for their historical and emotional associations, comparing her task to that of women in the rubble of postwar Germany, sorting bricks to salvage what could be used. The New Yorker, 14 June 2021 The distribution of individual risk factors—the spread of germs, the availability of nutritious food, one’s exposure to carcinogens—is always profoundly shaped by cultural and historical forces, and by inequities of race and class. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 9 June 2021 Altogether, using race as a medical tool in a patient’s HPI has social, historical, and medical consequences and needs to be rethought. Ashley Andreou, Scientific American, 7 June 2021 This technological loss could also be told as a story about shifting historical and societal norms over time. Amy Moran-thomas, Wired, 4 June 2021 Rising sea levels and intense storm surges are eroding the coasts, endangering historical and archaeological resources dating back thousands of years. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 June 2021 In one enchanting-verging-on-ridiculous scene, Undine rehearses her next lecture aloud during an intimate moment with Christoph, making explicit the link between this fantastical love story and its historical and architectural foundations. Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2021 Like the masks themselves, this debate is both historical and enduring—and its meaning often more complex than first glance might suggest. Nafeesah Allen, House Beautiful, 2 June 2021 However, in the past few years, a number of sites have popped up to provide pieces with historical, and artistic, value with the click of a button. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 2 June 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for historical

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The first known use of historical was in the 15th century

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Statistics for historical

Last Updated

17 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Historical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/historical. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for historical



English Language Learners Definition of historical

: of or relating to history
: based on history
: arranged in the order that things happened or came to be


his·​tor·​i·​cal | \ hi-ˈstȯr-i-kəl How to pronounce historical (audio) \

Kids Definition of historical

1 : relating to or based on history historical writings
2 : known to be true historical fact

Other Words from historical

historically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on historical

Nglish: Translation of historical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of historical for Arabic Speakers


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