English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Latin historicus (historical) +‎ -al (forming adjectives denoting of or relating to).[1]

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

historical (comparative more historical, superlative most historical)

  1. Of, concerning, or in accordance with recorded history, (particularly) as opposed to legends, myths, and fictions.
    July 4, 1776, is a historic date. A great deal of historical research has been done on the events leading up to that day.
    The historical works of Lord Macaulay and Edward Gibbon are in and of themselves historic.
    1. (literature, art) About history; depicting persons or events from history.
      • 2017 December 8, Paul Hayward, “Seminar VII: Hagiography”, in Medieval Primary Sources—Genre, Rhetoric and Transmission[1]:
        Hagiography, the historical genre which is the subject of this week's seminar, comprises narratives concerned with the saints and their achievements, especially the miracles which God has performed through them and on their behalf.
      • 2015 January 28, Mark Harris, “How 'Selma' Got Smeared”, in Grantland[2]:
        There is no acknowledgment—because there is no understanding—that sometimes historical fiction departs from facts in order to reach for more abstract, thematic, or complexly intuitive truths that even the most diligently fact-checked histories and biographies can fail to illuminate.
  2. Of, concerning, or in accordance with the past generally.
    1. (literature, art) Set in the past.
    2. (uncommon) Former, erstwhile; (religious, obsolete) lapsed, nominal.
      • 1886, Jacob Boehme translated by John Ellistone in Works, volume 1, epistle 2, §49, page 39:
        But concerning some persons of your neighbourhood... their Confession [of Faith] is rather an opinion than a true and sincere earnestness, for all of them are not that which they boast and glory to be; there may be many honest hearts among them; but many of them are only historical and titular, and desire only to show themselves, and to be applauded ...
    3. (grammar) One of various tenses or moods used to tell about past events, historic (tense).
      • 2010, Gerd Haverling, “Actionality, tense, and viewpoint”, in New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax[3], page 363:
        The historical present is often treated as a principal tense, but there are exceptions and sometimes both constructions appear in the same passage.
    4. (obsolete, biology) Synonym of hereditary or evolutionary.
  3. Of, concerning, or in accordance with the scholarly discipline of history.
    The Royal Historical Society
    The State Historical Society of Wisconsin
    1. Done in the manner of a historian: written as a development over time or in accordance with the historical method.
      • 1913, Herbert J. Spinden, A Study of Maya Art: Its Subject Matter and Historical Development[4], page 27:
        The historical development of skill in foreshortening will be demonstrated in another section. Only the more perfect phases will be treated here.
      • 2003 June, Denise E. DeLorme et al., “Journalists' Hostility towards Public Relations”, in Public Relations Review, volume 23, number 2:
        ...No studies have investigated the problem’s historic roots. Thus, this paper explores the perspective of “early insiders” through an historical analysis of autobiographies, biographies, and magazine articles written by and about early US newspaper reporters and editors.
      • 2011, Christian Lee Novetzke, “The theographic and the historiographic in an Indian sacred life story”, in Time, History, and the Religious Imagery in South Asia[5], page 119:
        The idea that hagiography can be used to write about history, but in itself does not contain a historical sense, seems not to be limited to the study of India.
    2. (uncommon) Synonym of historic: important or likely to be important to history and historians.
      • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
        A certain ball which a noble Duchess gave at Brussels on the 15th of June in the above-named year is historical. All Brussels had been in a state of excitement about it, and I have heard from ladies who were in that town at the period, that the talk and interest of persons of their own sex regarding the ball was much greater even than in respect of the enemy in their front.
      • 2010 July 12, Erich Follath et al., “Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei”, in Der Spiegel[6]:
        EB: We live in a special time of awakening. This is a historical moment for Egypt
        DS: In which many see you as a kind of messiah.
        EB: I neither can nor want to be a savior.
  4. Forming compound adjectives with the meaning "historical/~" or "historically":

Usage notes edit

  • Like many terms that start with a non-silent h but have emphasis on their second syllable, some people precede historical with an, others with a.
  • Historic and historical are variants of one another and have shared the same meaning (related to history) for much of their history. In present usage, however, a distinction is often made between the two: historic is used as an adjective for the study of history, while historical is used as an adjective for the events of the past. As such, historic is used to describe people, things, and events that are or will be considered important by future historians, while historical is used for people, things, and events in the past, whether important or not. A "historic event" is an important moment past, present, or in the future; a "historical event" is some moment in the past.

Synonyms edit

Antonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

historical (plural historicals)

  1. A historical romance.
    • 1999, Anne K. Kaler, Rosemary E. Johnson-Kurek, Romantic Conventions, page 63:
      However, as regular romance readers know, the romance novels that appear on the best-seller lists are not Harlequins at all, but rather historicals and contemporaries, which vary widely from the Harlequin pattern in style, plot, and character.

References edit

  1. ^ historical, adj.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.