The Difference Between “Historic” and “Historical”

Photo of Big Ben at night
London’s Big Ben is a historic clock.

This post will teach you the difference between historic and historical. These two words have similar meanings and get confused a lot, so don’t feel bad that you haven’t memorized their definitions.

Historic describes an important and momentous event, person, place, or thing in history.

  • The Revolutionary War was a historic event in the United States.
  • Marie Curie is a historic figure in scientific history.
  • Big Ben is a historic clock.

Historical describes anything that belonged to an earlier time period and relates to history.

  • Grandma found historical dinner plates at the yard sale.
  • The farmhouse from the 1800s is historical.
  • We looked at a historical map of our town to learn its original design.

To remember the difference, think about historic as being something big (meaningful to many) and historical as something small (meaningful to a few).

For instance, the first flight of the Wright brothers is big. It’s meaningful to many people. So choose historic.

Meanwhile, your first plane ride is small. It’s meaningful to a few people. So choose historical.

I hope this clears up any confusion. If you enjoy reading about writing and literary topics, too, check out my other blog, Dot and Dash.

Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach focusing on women author-entrepreneurs. She can help you succeed and make progress on your goals no matter where you are in the writing process. To learn more about her skills, check out her business’s website: Dot and Dash LLC.

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