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 The digital program will allow visitors to overlay historical images of the university’s campus at the time of the shooting onto today’s renovated landscape. Robin Goist, cleveland, "National Endowment for the Arts awards grant to Kent State for May 4, 1970 augmented reality project," 17 Jan. 2020 Given Iowans' historical distaste of negative campaigning, voters on the fence could wind up backing more moderately center-left and measured candidates such as Buttigieg or Biden. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Biden poised to benefit from ugly 'liar' fight between Warren and Sanders," 16 Jan. 2020 Here are some underrated historical locations that are true gems in telling the story of our past. Madeline Northup, Cincinnati.com, "10 places with a big dose of history in Cincinnati," 16 Jan. 2020 Anand’s prose about historical events is like that of an artful fiction writer. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "The best books Quartz India read in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 So much time has passed since then, and so much changed, that the Brookline shootings seem almost like a historical event — distant, abstract, behind us. BostonGlobe.com, "A quarter century on, an indelible loss - The Boston Globe," 29 Dec. 2019 In other parts of the Bay Area, a historical event left lingering marks and memories that people would rather forget. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "Bay Area cities move to address flood threat, mobility challenges in 2019," 17 Dec. 2019 Each vignette, inspired by historical events, draws a line from segregation to today. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "P&G Releases Their 2019 Citizenship Report," 10 Dec. 2019 Many of the show's storylines are based on true historical events, including the Kentucky trip. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "'The Crown' shows Queen Elizabeth visiting Kentucky. Here are the real trips it's based on," 27 Nov. 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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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

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Historical.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/historical. Accessed 21 January 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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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).


good-natured easy friendliness

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