Classic vs Classical

Some words share the same root word, causing people to misuse them or even interchange them at times. This is the case with the terms classic and classical, which both originated from “class” and both refers to quality. Despite having the same roots, these two actually have different meanings. This post will try to differentiate between them and allow you to use them properly in your writing.

The word classic is most commonly used as an adjective meaning “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind,” “serving as a standard of excellence,” or “remarkably and instructively typical.”

Mickey Mouse, Other Classic Disney Animated Characters Get Own Hot Wheels Cars (Exclusive)
Hollywood Reporter

New Zealand cricket fan makes classic one-handed crowd catch to win $50,000 at T20 International
Wide World of Sports

Twice-told tales: Jo Nesbø, Madeline Miller and others revive classic stories
Washington Post

It may also function as a noun referring to “a work of art of recognized and established value” or “a school subject that involves the study of ancient Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, and history.”

Classics of all kinds highlight MSU Riley Center spring/summer series
Mississippi State Newsroom

Heavy Table Says New Nye’s Waters Down a Classic
Eater Twin Cities

Poiret AW18 review: Can you remake a classic?
Financial Times

On the other hand, the term classical is used as an adjective meaning “of or relating to the ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its literature, art, architecture, or ideals,” “relating to the first significant period of an area of study,” or “of or relating to music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries characterized by an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation”

Brooklyn Rider extends classical music history at Howard Community College
Baltimore Sun

Classical Music Concerts to See in NYC This Weekend
New York Times

Classical music meshes with hip-hop in Black Violin concerts
Los Angeles Times

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between classic and classical you should be able to tell them apart and use them more accurately in your writing. Remember that classic is about having high quality and standards based on judgement over a period of time while classical refers to ancient literature, art, architecture or music.