his·​tor·​i·​cal | \hi-ˈstȯr-i-kəl, -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

3a : secondary sense 1c

b : diachronic historical grammar

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Other Words from historical

historicalness \ hi-​ˈstȯr-​i-​kəl-​nəs , -​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

Italy's capital took home first prize last year because of all its historical and cultural attractions. Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "These Are The Best Vacation Destinations In The World," 19 June 2018 The law adds to the list of national or historical phrases allowed to be posted in Arizona schools. Ricardo Cano, azcentral, "God, money, recess: 7 new education laws parents should know about," 14 May 2018 What followed was yet another season of inconsistency, uncertainty and underachievement by the lofty and historical standards which AC Milan have set. SI.com, "Why AC Milan's Future Is Bright Under Gattuso and Young Stars Despite Underwhelming Season," 11 May 2018 His ability to weave what reads as a simple tale from such complex historical and familial storylines is impressive. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "Empress Maria heads juicy Russian cast in historical novel about the Romanovs," 12 July 2018 Marie Antoinette isn’t a biopic, concerned with dry historical facts, speeches or big events. refinery29.com, "Why Marie Antoinette Is Really Mean Girls, Versailles Edition," 10 July 2018 The glossary of 56 words and phrases courted criticism from scores of Greek Cypriot journalists and some political parties who saw it as a bid to stymie free speech and impose a vocabulary that skews historical facts. Fox News, "OSCE official defends journalists' glossary in split Cyprus," 10 July 2018 There is also the political and historical storyline of a member of the former Yugoslavia playing in the biggest sporting event Russia has ever hosted. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Why Jeff Greer sees Croatia facing Brazil in the World Cup 2018 final," 29 June 2018 The university has nevertheless leased billboards and conducted other marketing efforts to promote its historical and economic contributions to the community, at a time when voters are considering the merits of the expansion. Jeff Mcdonald, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SDSU withholds records related to stadium development, cites attorney-client privilege," 25 June 2018

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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Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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

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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 \

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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Comments on historical

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


playful or foolish behavior

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