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 historicalness (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 Wanzo sees the present moment as just one in a series of historical moments in which activism has spurred people to examine African-American art and literature that addresses oppression. Brandon Griggs, CNN, "This is pop culture's moment of reckoning on matters of race," 25 June 2020 Giglio asserted that the church, much like the rest of the country, is fighting historical context at the present moment. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Evangelical Pastor Whitesplains Why Slavery Was A 'Blessing'," 16 June 2020 For Pride Month, here are 17 books that aim to shed light on significant historical moments that informed and shaped the modern LGBTQ rights movement. NBC News, "Trump's re-election in danger zone, PPE shortages show racial divide and Milley apologizes," 11 June 2020 Claudia Rankine exposes the rot at the heart of this country by holding up a mirror to some of its most renowned and infamous artists and historical moments. Erin Parker, Glamour, "13 Books to Educate Yourself on Antiracism, According to Black Women," 5 June 2020 Slavery, America's greatest historical shame, was the flashpoint then. Ted Anthony, Anchorage Daily News, "History, right now: Echoes of 1968, and other American years," 1 June 2020 Slavery, America's greatest historical shame, was the flashpoint then. Ted Anthony, The Christian Science Monitor, "In George Floyd protests, echoes of 1968 social unrest," 31 May 2020 These are the kind of actions the public is analyzing in the historical figures their communities have put on a pedestal. Christian Alejandro Ocampo, Houston Chronicle, "No plans to change Laredo school named after Confederate colonel," 13 July 2020 With Biden at the helm, the president claims, lawlessness would reign and liberal activists would be given carte blanche to uproot memorials to prominent historical figures and delegitimize the existence of the U.S. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Interview: Pence declares only Trump can save America and its history from the mob," 11 July 2020

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

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Historical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/historical. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for historical


How to pronounce historical (audio)

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

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