phys·​i·​cal | \ˈfi-zi-kəl \

Definition of physical 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to natural science

b(1) : of or relating to physics

(2) : characterized or produced by the forces and operations of physics

2a : having material existence : perceptible especially through the senses and subject to the laws of nature everything physical is measurable by weight, motion, and resistance— Thomas De Quincey

b : of or relating to material things

3a : of or relating to the body physical abuse

b(1) : concerned or preoccupied with the body and its needs : carnal physical appetites

(2) : sexual a physical love affair physical attraction

c : characterized by especially rugged and forceful physical activity : rough a physical hockey game a physical player



Definition of physical (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from physical


physically \ˈfi-​zi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
physicalness \ˈfi-​zi-​kəl-​nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for physical

Synonyms: Adjective

animal, bodily, carnal, corporal, corporeal, fleshly, material, somatic

Antonyms: Adjective

nonmaterial, nonphysical

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Choose the Right Synonym for physical


material, physical, corporeal, phenomenal, sensible, objective mean of or belonging to actuality. material implies formation out of tangible matter; used in contrast with spiritual or ideal it may connote the mundane, crass, or grasping. material values physical applies to what is perceived directly by the senses and may contrast with mental, spiritual, or imaginary. the physical benefits of exercise corporeal implies having the tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, or resistance to force. artists have portrayed angels as corporeal beings phenomenal applies to what is known or perceived through the senses rather than by intuition or rational deduction. scientists concerned with the phenomenal world sensible stresses the capability of readily or forcibly impressing the senses. the earth's rotation is not sensible to us objective may stress material or independent existence apart from a subject perceiving it. no objective evidence of damage

Examples of physical in a Sentence


The program is designed to address both physical and emotional health. No physical contact with other players is allowed in the game. He has an unusual physical appearance. There was no physical evidence of the crime. Their relationship was purely physical.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In the first episode, the neighborhood squabbles turn physical again and again. Anna North, Vox, "My Brilliant Friend pulls back the curtain on women’s lives. What it reveals is dark and violent.," 20 Nov. 2018 The cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits of snoozing are profound. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Is Lucid Dreaming? Your Guide to Exploring Your Subconscious," 18 Sep. 2018 What started as a verbal argument between the 19-year-old woman from the Netherlands and 44-year-old woman from the U.S. turned physical, with respective family members joining in on the brawl, reports The Guardian. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Tourists Brawl Over Selfie Spot at Rome's Trevi Fountain," 10 Aug. 2018 Then, as things tend to do when Jones is involved, the proceedings got physical. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Watch ex-Cowboy Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones fight an Atlanta airport employee," 11 July 2018 While some environmental groups have applauded the efforts to clean up oceans by eliminating plastic straws, disability rights groups have said that a total ban on would negatively affect people with physical disabilities. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "These 8 Companies Are Ditching Plastic Straws. Here’s How They Are Replacing Them," 11 July 2018 Absentee voters currently must be at least 60 years old, be out of town when the polls are open or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration. David Eggert, Detroit Free Press, "Group submits signatures for ballot measure to expand voting in Michigan," 9 July 2018 Some, perhaps many, individuals with opioid use disorder have other physical, psychological, and social issues — depression, anxiety, other substance use disorders, social isolation, unemployment, and the like — that complicate treatment. Patrick Skerrett, STAT, "Hey, doctors: Why aren’t you stepping up to treat people with opioid addiction?," 5 July 2018 Most of these traits were physical or physiological, though some were psychological. Robert Plomin, WSJ, "Our Fortunetelling Genes," 15 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Jessie started the exam, which began with harmless tests I was used to from my regular physicals, like a thyroid examination and pressing on my stomach. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "I Went to the Gyno for the First Time and Here's What Happened," 13 Sep. 2018 The rest of the time was spent talking and doing all the types of exams you're already used to from regular physicals (and that didn't take long either). Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "I Went to the Gyno for the First Time and Here's What Happened," 13 Sep. 2018 Jackson said the physical did not include body measurements. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "Good genes? How can Trump eat a lot of fast food, exercise little and be healthy?," 16 Jan. 2018 The results of blood work taken during a routine physical showed that Park's platelets (cells that help clot the blood) were very low. Amy Capetta, Good Housekeeping, "Bosch's Linda Park on What It's Really Like to Live With Lupus," 31 July 2017 The contrasts between Lilah and Sophie went beyond the physical. Jennifer Rabiner*, Redbook, ""Why Don't I Like My Own Child?"," 10 Nov. 2016 Now, in addition to two physicals and a post-fight check, fighters must submit blood work within 180 days of a fight. The Courier-Journal, "Danger in the cage: Lax regulation in amateur MMA puts lives at risk," 21 June 2018 The urgent care, located in Terminal 4, is equipped to offer patients physicals, drug tests, lab tests, X-rays and prescriptions, as well as treat numerous ailments and injuries. Samie Gebers, azcentral, "Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport opens urgent care to treat travelers, employees," 25 Apr. 2018 Third-rounder Owen Miller of Illinois State headlines the initial group of signees who’ve reported to Peoria, Ariz., for physicals and the start of their professional careers. Jeff Sanders,, "Padres sign Illinois State's Owen Miller, 18 others from 2018 draft class," 12 June 2018

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


1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1934, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for physical


Middle English phisicale medical, from Medieval Latin physicalis, from Latin physica

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Statistics for physical

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for physical

The first known use of physical was in 1580

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More Definitions for physical



English Language Learners Definition of physical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: relating to the body of a person instead of the mind

: existing in a form that you can touch or see

: involving or related to sex



English Language Learners Definition of physical (Entry 2 of 2)

: a medical examination to see if a person's body is healthy


phys·​i·​cal | \ˈfi-zi-kəl \

Kids Definition of physical

1 : of the body : bodily A stallion with a wonderful physical perfection …— Walter Farley, The Black Stallion

2 : existing in a form that can be touched or seen physical objects

3 : of or relating to physics

Other Words from physical

physically adverb


phys·​i·​cal | \ˈfiz-i-kəl \

Medical Definition of physical 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having material existence : perceptible especially through the senses and subject to the laws of nature

2a : of or relating to physics

b : characterized or produced by the forces and operations of physics

3 : of or relating to the body

Other Words from physical

physically \-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb



Medical Definition of physical (Entry 2 of 2)

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More from Merriam-Webster on physical

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with physical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for physical

Spanish Central: Translation of physical

Nglish: Translation of physical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of physical for Arabic Speakers

Comments on physical

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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