prac·​ti·​cal | \ ˈprak-ti-kəl How to pronounce practical (audio) \

Definition of practical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal a practical question for all practical purposes
b : being such in practice or effect : virtual a practical failure
2 : actively engaged in some course of action or occupation a practical farmer
3 : capable of being put to use or account : useful he had a practical knowledge of French
4a : disposed to action as opposed to speculation or abstraction
b(1) : qualified by practice or practical training a good practical mechanic
(2) : designed to supplement theoretical training by experience
5 : concerned with voluntary action and ethical decisions practical reason



Definition of practical (Entry 2 of 2)

: an examination requiring demonstration of some practical skill a zoology practical

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Other Words from practical


practicality \ ˌprak-​ti-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce practical (audio) \ noun
practicalness \ ˈprak-​ti-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce practical (audio) \ noun

Examples of practical in a Sentence

Adjective We can speculate about the future, but on a more practical level, we have to admit that we simply don't know what will happen. An engineer will address the design's practical problems. She has a lot of practical experience in dealing with these kinds of problems. practical solutions to complicated problems He thinks wind can be a practical source of renewable energy. The machine is too big to be practical for most private homes. The shoes are nice, but they're not very practical. The book is a practical guide to car care. He gave me some practical advice on finding a job. Noun We have our zoology practicals next week.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Obviously, that isn’t safe or practical in a raging pandemic. Brent Rose, Wired, "The Hollywood Tech Tricks Getting Film Crews Back on Set," 11 Feb. 2021 To build the future not just Biden but many public transport and climate activists are hoping for, trains need to become staggeringly ordinary and practical. Mike Pearl, The New Republic, "Could “Amtrak Joe” Revolutionize Public Transport?," 4 Feb. 2021 Pauline Kael, as always acute and practical both, made this point in her New Yorker review., "Celebrate romance with these movies," 4 Feb. 2021 But whether Biden’s executive order is symbolic or practical, it’s being celebrated by many as a sign that this administration will support trans people’s right to live and work while openly self-identifying in the way that fits them best. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "President Joe Biden Just Overturned Trump’s Ban on Trans People in the Military," 25 Jan. 2021 Modern-day Israel, the Start-Up Nation, can provide technological and practical guidance as well. Joel M. Zinberg, National Review, "Why Is Israel Doing Better Than Everyone Else in COVID Vaccinations?," 17 Jan. 2021 The consequences of the violence are both psychological and practical — especially for the government workers, academics and activists who are the biggest targets. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, "‘There Is No Safe Area’: In Kabul, Fear Has Taken Over," 17 Jan. 2021 The queen of tidiness and the most recognizable name in storage have joined forces, and the result is a unique and practical collaboration. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Marie Kondo’s 2021 Resolution? Getting You Organized," 11 Jan. 2021 Leaders in both parties agreed to a short delay in the proceedings, which serves their political and practical interests, even as National Guard troops remain at the Capitol because of security threats to lawmakers ahead of the trial. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, Star Tribune, "GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial," 26 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All three of these agencies have worked to give students the flexibility to work online and, as Friday, NACCAS, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced the lifting of the restriction to teach practicals hands-on. Christopher Roth, azcentral, "Valley hairdressers, cosmetologists take a hit as the coronavirus affects salons," 23 Mar. 2020

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1925, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for practical


Middle English, from Late Latin practicus, from Greek praktikos, from prassein to pass over, fare, do; akin to Greek peran to pass through — more at fare

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Time Traveler for practical

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for practical

Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Practical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for practical



English Language Learners Definition of practical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: relating to what is real rather than to what is possible or imagined
: likely to succeed and reasonable to do or use
: appropriate or suited for actual use



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

chiefly British : an examination in which students have to do or make something to show what they have learned


prac·​ti·​cal | \ ˈprak-ti-kəl How to pronounce practical (audio) \

Kids Definition of practical

1 : of or relating to real action rather than ideas or thought practical matters
2 : capable of being put to use : reasonable to do or use practical advice Those shoes are nice, but these are more practical.
3 : tending to act according to reason and logic Beezus, always practical, changed her mind. “It wouldn't work.”— Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby a practical person

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