historical

adjective
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
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

But that script concentrated on very elaborately representing the politics and the actual, [historical] story in minute detail. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos on why his films aren’t as mean as people say," 21 Nov. 2018 Others showed long-dead historical figures and pop stars sneaking into the facility, their arms laden with explosives. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook political ad tools are ripe for trolling," 1 Nov. 2018 From an art-historical perspective, Thomas, who began her career in photography in the early aughts, spotlights people who have traditionally been relegated to the margins. Mickalene Thomas, Harper's BAZAAR, "Artist Mickalene Thomas Opens Up About the Importance of Diverse Bodies In Her Work," 3 Oct. 2018 What a world-historical feat: of athleticism, politics, power, charisma. Zach Baron, GQ, "In Praise of Being Washed," 2 July 2018 Trying to assert art-historical importance on the paintings’ behalf, a critic comes up against their obvious lack of self-importance. Stephen Metcalf, The Atlantic, "Jean-Michel Basquiat Is Still an Enigma," 24 June 2018 The recurrent theme is one of human life thrown off course by disaster, whether world-historical or mundane. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 16 June 2018 Plus that same blend of Japanese folklore with a pseudo-historical setting? Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "How Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's grappling hook arm changes Dark Souls-style combat," 12 June 2018 After years spent pining for another historical Total War game, last year’s Thrones of Britannia met with tepid response. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Call of Duty's battle royale is free-to-try, Steam moved 15 exabytes of data in 2018," 18 Jan. 2019

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

17 Feb 2019

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

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More Definitions for historical

historical

adjective

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

historical

adjective
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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