Definition of physical in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfizik(ə)l/


1Relating to the body as opposed to the mind: a whole range of physical and mental challenges
More example sentences
  • Mental and physical exhaustion retards the growth of body and mind, and it often causes a psychosomatic illness.
  • When cycling enthusiast Katie Bamber booked a charity trip to Vietnam she was bracing herself for a tough mental and physical challenge.
  • The healing takes places on an emotional level, a mental level, and on a body level, a physical level.
bodily, corporeal, corporal, somatic;
carnal, fleshly, nonspiritual, this-worldly
1.1Involving bodily contact or activity: verbal or physical abuse football and other physical games
More example sentences
  • We berate those who cross the line and leave the immature and underdeveloped open to the physical abuse of contact and collision sports.
  • Yes, there is the element of consent and the obvious foreknowledge that physical contact sports carry an inherent risk of injury.
  • These guys are playing a physical contact game, they're all steamed up.
manual, laboring, labor-intensive, blue-collar
2Relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete: pleasant physical environments physical assets such as houses or cars
More example sentences
  • These are tangible, physical assets and totally unlike the stock of a typical NYSE company.
  • Common sense says that the physical environment has an impact on productivity.
  • Most businesses deal with the physical assets and the environment within, but have never looked at the people.
material, concrete, tangible, palpable, solid, substantial, real, actual, visible
2.1Relating to physics or the operation of natural forces generally: physical laws
More example sentences
  • Certainly, before Newton, the very idea of physical law was at best a blur.
  • Feynman's work is filled with the sort of raw physical insight that physicists love and admire.
  • Today we understand most of these things in terms of physical forces acting under impersonal laws.


(also physical examination)
A medical examination to determine a person’s bodily fitness.
Example sentences
  • Planning to treat yourself to a complete physical for the New Year?
  • She loved going to the doctor's office and insisted on having a complete physical at every visit.
  • A healthy child from an area of high endemicity receives an annual physical.


get physical

informal Become aggressive or violent.
Example sentences
  • They fought over the controller for a good 20 minutes until their mom's had to separate them because they were getting physical.
  • In the first practice of their off-week, the Lions ran a spirited one-on-one passing drill with the cornerbacks getting physical at the line.
  • They even joked about what would happen if their competition got physical.
1.1Become sexually intimate with someone.
Example sentences
  • We also got physical very much earlier in the relationship than I wanted to.
  • Women, on the other hand, live in a ‘emotion’ or ‘love’ house, whereas getting physical is a room they have to have a reason to get up, walk over to, and enter.
  • Will you be all right if she gets physical with someone else?



Example sentences
  • ‘I've got to learn the speed of the game and have patience with that, also the physicalness of it,’ he said through an interpreter after Tuesday's practice.
  • We weren't used to the physicalness - pushing, shoving, holding - and them not calling anything.
  • The other enthralling thing about sport is the physicalness of it.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'medicinal, relating to medicine'): from medieval Latin physicalis, from Latin physica 'things relating to nature' (see physic). Sense 2 dates from the late 16th century and sense 1 from the late 18th century.

Words that rhyme with physical

metaphysical, quizzical

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: phys·i·cal

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