Definition of classical in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈklasɪk(ə)l/


1Relating to ancient Greek or Latin literature, art, or culture: classical mythology classical Latin
More example sentences
  • He teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, along with courses in classical mythology and Greek literature and culture.
  • However, there were other Church Fathers who defended the value of studying classical literature and philosophy.
  • But the balance in the secondary schools of Europe was overwhelmingly in favour of classical culture.
ancient Greek, Grecian, Hellenic, Attic;
Latin, ancient Roman
1.1(Of art or architecture) influenced by ancient Greek or Roman forms or principles: the classical house at Buscot Park
More example sentences
  • An educational program was set up, and promising youth were sent on government-sponsored tours of Europe to learn about classical art and architecture.
  • Here, his great palace imitated and even incorporated examples of late classical art and architecture.
  • I'd been traveling across Greece and Turkey with a small group of college students, studying Byzantine and classical art and architecture.
simple, pure, restrained, plain, austere;
well proportioned, harmonious, balanced, symmetrical, elegant, aesthetic;
Literature  Augustan
2Representing an exemplary standard within a traditional and long-established form or style: classical ballet
More example sentences
  • This piece is also the furthest from the traditional style of classical ballet and offers a good reflection of the state of contemporary ballet.
  • But one thing is clear: The mood is frivolous, with most designers steering clear of traditional and classical styles and opting instead for adventure.
  • It is within such a classical critical tradition of a crisis of ideology that the declining confrontations of labor and capital has brought more radical consequences.
traditional, long-established;
serious, highbrow, heavyweight;
symphonic, concert
informal heavy
2.1Relating to the first significant period of an area of study: classical mechanics
More example sentences
  • Within the field of religion or area studies, there is a difference between emphases in the classical or modern period.
  • Did you feel like you were coming in at the last moment of the classical Hollywood period?
  • As was common throughout the classical period of Indian mathematics, members of the family acted as teachers to other family members.
3 Physics Relating to or based upon concepts and theories which preceded the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics; Newtonian: classical physics
More example sentences
  • The second term you may recognize to be the kinetic energy of classical Newtonian physics.
  • Like all his contemporaries, Hawking was brought up, as a scientist, on the classical ideas of Newton and on relativity theory and quantum physics in their original forms.
  • Newton's Law of Gravitation was the beginning of classical field theory.


See classic (usage)



Example sentences
  • Our oil paintings have different styles such as classicalism, impressionism and realism.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, for example, the ‘newer’ paradigm of positivism emerged to challenge the ‘older’ paradigm of classicalism.
  • The artist used a combination of impressionism and classicalism.


Pronunciation: /klasɪˈkalɪti/
Example sentences
  • The black and white pictures on the wall emulate the sense of classicality.
  • After early, Busoni-influenced attempts to ‘reconcile expressionism with new classicality’, Wolpe's music took a more political turn during the early 1930s.
  • He postulates that complexity is the key to understanding the emergence of classicality.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'outstanding of its kind'): from Latin classicus 'belonging to a class' (see classic) + -al.

Words that rhyme with classical

fascicle, neoclassical

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: clas|sic¦al

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.