Definition of practical in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpraktək(ə)l/


1Of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas: there are two obvious practical applications of the research
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  • Internships and co-op opportunities turn classroom theory into practical, hands-on experience.
  • The focus is on research and theory, rather than practical matters of assessment and intervention.
  • And the region's scientists and researchers have tended to concentrate on finding practical applications rather than unraveling basic principles.
empirical, hands-on, actual, active, applied, heuristic, experiential, evidence-based
1.1(Of an idea, plan, or method) likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances; feasible: neither of these strategies is practical for smaller businesses
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  • In the health services of the Western world, a search is under way to find effective and practical methods for assessing the performance of doctors.
  • A number of alternative more practical methods have been suggested.
  • So, if we are to achieve the goal of reducing congestion we must complement the current plan with immediate and attractive alternatives that provide practical ways of travelling to and around the city.
1.2Suitable for a particular purpose: a practical, stylish kitchen
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  • The scientists expect to make these cells practical to use within just 2 years.
  • However, recent changes in back-end switch design now make it practical and feasible.
  • The plan emphasizes treatment and prevention strategies that are effective and practical for use in individual areas.
functional, sensible, utilitarian, workaday
1.3(Of a person) sensible and realistic in their approach to a situation or problem: I’m not unfeeling, just trying to be practical
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  • She said Caroline was a sensible and practical teenager, and prepared well for her trip.
  • Consequently, the practical politicians and their realistic programs can create nothing but a disaster.
  • I feel that I am also a very rational, reasonable and practical person.
realistic, sensible, down-to-earth, businesslike, commonsensical, grounded, hardheaded, no-nonsense
informal hard-nosed
1.4(Of a person) skilled at manual tasks: Steve’ll fix it—he’s quite practical
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  • He was a very practical man and was skilled in the wireless detection system which we now call radar.
2So nearly the case that it can be regarded as so; virtual: it was a practical certainty that he would try to raise more money
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  • There is practical certainty as to payment, and that contingency does not affect the existence of the liability.
  • Should the law extend the definition beyond purpose to cover the awareness of the practical certainty that the crew would be killed?


for all practical purposes

Virtually, or essentially: Zimmerman had become, for all practical purposes, an arms smuggler
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  • Judicial activism was for all practical purposes now the accepted law of the land in everything from anti-trust cases to the arrest of criminals.
  • Well, it's already hitting, for all practical purposes here.
  • But for all practical purposes, they're both unelectable this fall.


Late 16th century: from archaic practic 'practical' (from Old French practique, via late Latin from Greek praktikos 'concerned with action', from prattein 'do, act') + -al.

Words that rhyme with practical

impractical, syntactical, tactical

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: prac·ti·cal

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