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 practicality (audio) \ noun
practicalness \ ˈprak-​ti-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce practicalness (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 Home of the Week: Renovation of Riverwood family home includes design, decor touches from all three children While some décor decisions were aesthetic and sentimental, others, like the large built-in bookcase in the living room, were practical. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, "From NYC to Crescent Hill: Couple amps up the charm, design in this Victorian-style home," 20 Feb. 2020 This easy, breezy dress is super practical for post cake-twirling and bouquet catching. Sara Holzman, Marie Claire, "What to Wear to a Spring Wedding," 14 Jan. 2020 The practical and political effect of having two candidates backing one pledge without the third agreeing to those terms is uncertain., "Two of the three candidates running in the Democratic primary for Senate plan on Monday to sign a so-called People’s Pledge to limit outside political spending in the primary race.," 2 Dec. 2019 Even those that claim to be made specifically for travel often take up too much space in a suitcase to be very practical. Noah Kaufman, Condé Nast Traveler, "10 Gifts for Anyone Traveling With a Baby," 2 Dec. 2019 The Porgs were even more practical, an answer to the prospect of digitally erasing hundreds of puffins residing on the filming location of Skellig Michael, off the southwest coast of Ireland. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "In defense of Star Wars' cuddliest creatures… or why you should show Porgs and Ewoks more love," 28 Nov. 2019 Practically, speaking Sotomayor also challenged how practical the change of policy really is. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Sotomayor on DACA: “This is about our choice to destroy lives.”," 12 Nov. 2019 Under Armour and Virgin Galactic designed the suits to be practical enough so the astronauts could wear them after their trips. Marc Bain, Quartzy, "The first commercial spacesuits are like soft, high-tech pajamas," 16 Oct. 2019 But that may not be practical if there are many more cases. Anchorage Daily News, "Can the coronavirus be contained? Unknowns complicate response.," 29 Jan. 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

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Practical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for practical


How to pronounce practical (audio)

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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