top·i·cal | \ ˈtä-pi-kəl \

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 \ 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

These eight specials are more topical than most of the recent Netflix hours, with three other comics (Jak Knight, Sam Jay and Sabrina Jalees) mixing in #MeToo material with solid sets. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "A Netflix Experiment Gives Deserving Comics Their 15 Minutes," 2 July 2018 Still, as good as Van Der Beek is at embodying this type of Wall Street swagger, the Trump stuff feels less like an integral part of the story than an effort to be topical. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pose': TV Review," 22 May 2018 Thought its certainly a topical subject for a society obsessed with TVs, computers and mobile devices, Bird insists there is no strong social message intended with Screenslaver. USA TODAY, "Inside 'Incredibles 2' major villain problem - and how director Brad Bird fixed it," 13 June 2018 Epic sells players cosmetic items that do not affect gameplay, including goofy and topical character costumes and in-game dance moves purely for vanity purposes. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Fortnite made nearly $300 million in the month of April," 24 May 2018 Some businesses offered samples of their wares, such as topical creams and water infused with cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract. Luke Money,, "Chamber of Commerce lunch turns spotlight on Costa Mesa's cannabis industry," 17 May 2018 Once they’d been isolated, some scientists began to wonder whether these enzymes could survive in topical treatments and delivered into human skin cells. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "DNA-Repairing Sunscreen: Legit or Not?," 2 July 2018 It was announced this morning that the FDA has approved Qbrexza (glycopyrronium) cloth as a safe and effective topical treatment for hyperhidrosis under the arms. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The FDA Approves Qbrexza Wipes to Stop Excessive Underarm Sweating​​," 29 June 2018 Only a couple of works are topical — a surprise these days. Cate Mcquaid,, "When student work is well worth studying," 4 July 2018

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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Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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The first known use of topical was circa 1525

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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 \

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 \ adverb

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to make amends

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