historical

adjective

his·​tor·​i·​cal hi-ˈstȯr-i-kəl How to pronounce historical (audio)
-ˈstär-
1
a
: of, relating to, or having the character of history
historical data
b
: based on history
historical novels
c
: used in the past and reproduced in historical presentations
2
: famous in history : historic sense a
3
b
: diachronic
historical grammar
historicalness noun

Did you know?

historic or historical?

Do you experience a slight pause before using either of these words as you try to remember which one is correct and whether it should be preceded by an or a? If so, you’re not alone, for many people find this pair particularly tricky. Historic and historical are both occasionally found preceded by an, since the initial h in each word was formerly left unpronounced. Now this h is heard, and a is far more common than an (by a ratio of about 4 to 1 in American English).

Historic and historical have been used interchangeably by many writers, even in recent years. If you would like to avoid being corrected, however, use historical for matters relating to history (the historical society), and historic to refer to things having great and lasting importance (a historic occasion).

Example Sentences

He strove for historical accuracy in the movie. The kings are listed in historical order.
Recent Examples on the Web After the Revolutionary War, indigo processing fell into obscurity, relegated to the fringes of the agricultural conversation (if it was ever mentioned at all) as a historical oddity. Latria Graham, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Dec. 2022 In a show that feels largely timeless, the latter is often heavily linked to the historical moment—the very first interviewee to pick a luxury item was actress Sally Ann Howes, who (in a nod to the pain of rationing) chose garlic. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, 18 Nov. 2022 The night will include cake, music from all the eras of the roller rink, and historical photos from the timeline of the roller rink. Matt Leavitt, cleveland, 18 Nov. 2022 With the number of properties on the market still relatively scarce by historical standards, sellers continue to receive multiple offers, especially for the most affordable homes where competition remains fierce. CBS News, 18 Nov. 2022 The historical record, however, lacks information on how crowded the services were after one of the city's biggest celebrations. Douglas C. Towne, The Arizona Republic, 18 Nov. 2022 But in the meantime, there are other period pieces, royal retellings, and historical dramas to fill the void left by Imelda Staunton and Elizabeth Debicki. Claudia Guthrie, ELLE, 18 Nov. 2022 In reality, the innocuous phrase is not a historical insult. Ashley Leestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 Many historical buildings have private access to underground chambers where massive mills still stand. Silvia Marchetti, CNN, 18 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'historical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of historical was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near historical

Cite this Entry

“Historical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/historical. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

historical

adjective

his·​tor·​i·​cal his-ˈtȯr-i-kəl How to pronounce historical (audio)
-ˈtär-
1
a
: of, relating to, or having the character of history
historical fact
b
: based on history
historical novels
c
: of, relating to, or exhibiting objects from the past
a historical museum
2
historically
-i-k(ə-)lē
adverb
historicalness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on historical

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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