Historic or Historical?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Historic" and "Historical"?

"Historic" and "historical" are easy to confuse because they both relate to the past. However, there is a difference between the two words.
  • Historic means "having importance in history."
    • Landing on the Moon was a historic moment.
  • Historical means "from the past" or "relating to history."
    • I have found some historical records about my hamster.
historic or historical?

More about "Historic" and "Historical"

The words "historic" and "historical" are close in meaning, but their uses are quite different.

Examples with "Historic" and "Historical"

The adjective "historic" means "having importance in history" or "having influence on history." The adjective "historical" means "having taken place in history," "from the past," or "pertaining to history."

Below are three pairs of similar-looking sentences to help highlight the difference:
  • 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)

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? an or a? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? 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

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