historic and historical - the difference

The Quick Answer
Historic means having importance in history.
Historical means from the past or relating to history.
The words historic and historical are close in meaning, but their uses are quite different.

Historic

The adjective historic means having importance in history or having influence on history.

Historical

The adjective historical means having taken place in history, from the past or pertaining to history.

Side-by-side examples:
  • This is a historical event.
  • (one that happened in the past)
  • This is a historic event.
  • (one that is important in history, e.g., the Moon landing)
  • He was a historical scholar.
  • (A scholar who studied history)
  • He was a historic scholar.
  • (A scholar who was important in history, e.g., Homer)
  • The bones were of historical significance.
  • (significant from a perspective of history, i.e., possibly worthless but important to study history)
  • The bones were of historic significance.
  • (very significant, i.e., important in history)

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? an or a? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are adjectives? List of easily confused words