top·​i·​cal | \ ˈtä-pi-kəl How to pronounce topical (audio) \

Definition of topical

1a : referring to the topics of the day or place : of local or temporary interest a topical novel topical references
b : of, relating to, or arranged by topics set down in topical form
2 : designed for or involving local application and action (as on the body) a topical anesthetic a topical remedy

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Other Words from topical

topically \ ˈtä-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce topical (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

Like a topical medicine, a topical reference or story applies to something specific, focusing on a topic that's currently in the news. TV comedians often use topical humor, making jokes about a currently popular movie or the latest political scandal—if possible, one that just broke that same day. Topical humor has a short lifespan, though, because the news keeps changing and the new hot topics just keep coming. The medical meaning of topical stays closer to the meaning of the root, since it describes something that's put right on the place that seems to need it.

Examples of topical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For the best benefits, look for polyglutamic acid in the top half of the ingredients lists of topical skincare products that are left on skin rather than rinsed off, such as moisturizers and serums. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Polyglutamic Acid, Your Skin's New Hero Hydrator," 29 Dec. 2020 Chang says to look for topical treatments that contain retinoids, hydroquinone, and azelaic acid, which have all been proven to dramatically lighten dark marks and even melasma. Audrey Noble, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Get Rid of Acne Scars—Forever," 21 Dec. 2020 Over the course of its run, the series has examined topical issues such as health care, immigration, unionization and the struggles of retail workers. Will Thorne,, "‘Superstore’ to end after Season 6 on NBC," 3 Dec. 2020 Then empower them to speak out on more topical issues at home or with friends. Heather Greenwood Davis, National Geographic, "Kids can’t vote. But parents can help them make a difference.," 2 Nov. 2020 The good news is that hyaluronic acid is readily available in topical skincare products at every price point and category, and effectively absorbed by the skin. Hannah Morrill, Marie Claire, "Hyaluronic Acid 101: A User's Guide," 17 Nov. 2020 That can be done with anti-itch medications and topical steroids, like over-the-counter pramoxine, which comes in spray and gel form. Maggie O'neill,, "What Are Chigger Bites? We Asked a Dermatologist What You Need to Know," 5 Aug. 2020 And the pandemic may have actually reduced the frequency of other topical words. Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, "Oxford’s 2020 Word of the Year? It’s Too Hard to Isolate," 22 Nov. 2020 The film’s secular class message relies on slotting the white underclass while pitying the opioid crisis, for topical relevance (adding the decadent allure of Breaking Bad and The Paper Chase to Millennial elitism). Armond White, National Review, "Hillbilly Elegy: Opie and Vance at Yale and Hollywood," 18 Nov. 2020

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

circa 1525, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

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Time Traveler for topical

Time Traveler

The first known use of topical was circa 1525

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Topical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for topical


How to pronounce topical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of topical

: relating to current news or events : dealing with things that are important, popular, etc., right now
medical : made to be put on the skin


top·​i·​cal | \ ˈtäp-i-kəl How to pronounce topical (audio) \

Medical Definition of topical

: designed for or involving application to or action on the surface of a part of the body applied a topical anesthetic to numb the skin eyedrops used in the topical treatment of glaucoma

Other Words from topical

topically \ -​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce topical (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on topical

Nglish: Translation of topical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of topical for Arabic Speakers

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