Definition of physical in English:



  • 1Relating to the body as opposed to the mind.

    ‘a range of physical and mental challenges’
    • ‘Last night I really hurt someone, and I don't mean in the physical sense.’
    • ‘From birth, such an infant will reflexively grab and tightly grip whenever he perceives a physical threat.’
    • ‘The healing takes places on an emotional level, a mental level, and on a body level, a physical level.’
    • ‘Thus it will be seen that a sense of physical security and economic status can be far more influential than is generally recognised.’
    • ‘There is a sense of physical smallness before these works, a kind of Alice in Wonderland-esque trip.’
    • ‘Even buying a pint of milk was turned into a mental and physical challenge.’
    • ‘I got such a strange sense of what his physical presence would have been like.’
    • ‘The Short Form Health Survey was designed to measure perceived current physical health.’
    • ‘He enjoys the contrasts of mental and physical challenge.’
    • ‘With the emergence of the first decent wind of the week, this was links golf at its best, challenging the mental and physical endurance of all concerned.’
    • ‘Mental and physical exhaustion retards the growth of body and mind, and it often causes a psychosomatic illness.’
    • ‘The play ebbed and flowed from one end of the field to the other, with no regard for the physical limitations of the body nor that of the human mind.’
    • ‘In recent years, researchers have shown that physical changes in the body can be accompanied by mental changes as well.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, he describes the climb as a mental, not physical, challenge.’
    • ‘First, small steps can be taken to help achieve a basic sense of physical safety.’
    • ‘He was distracted from his blindness, he says, by the deluge of mental and physical challenges coming his way.’
    • ‘Everyone, absolutely everyone, even the greatest ballerina, can recite a list of self-perceived physical deficits.’
    • ‘A complicated strategy underlies the thrusts and parries of a duel - making it both a mental and physical challenge.’
    • ‘When cycling enthusiast Katie Bamber booked a charity trip to Vietnam she was bracing herself for a tough mental and physical challenge.’
    bodily, corporeal, corporal, fleshly, in the flesh
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    1. 1.1 Involving bodily contact or activity.
      ‘less physical sports such as bowls’
      ‘a physical relationship’
      • ‘The cycle needs to be broken - youths need to know abuse is wrong before sexual and physical assaults stop.’
      • ‘All physical contact sports carry an element of risk, and it is a risk that players are aware of and accept.’
      • ‘There are obvious abuses in this world: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.’
      • ‘Teachers will be asked to say whether they have faced situations ranging from mob intimidation, physical assault or sexual or racial harassment.’
      • ‘Sexual and physical assault is still a common problem seen day today in our hospitals.’
      • ‘Renner and Yurchesyn compared cases of physical assault, sexual assault and robbery in Nova Scotia.’
      • ‘Sexual and physical assaults in adulthood are also related to psychiatric disorders.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One of the most obvious ways that a victim can avoid or escape physical abuse may be by contacting the police and leaving the home.’
      • ‘This included 126 physical assaults, 62 sexual insults and threats and nine cases of racist abuse.’
      • ‘Many drop out of school and many are prey to sexual and physical abuse, neglect and substance abuse.’
      • ‘The alleged sexual and physical assault was inflicted on a young Latvian man at Station Road, Portarlington recently.’
      • ‘One of the most common allegations relates to physical abuse and excessive corporal punishment.’
      • ‘These guys are playing a physical contact game, they're all steamed up.’
      • ‘By the way, those who say that diving is not a physical contact sport should take a look at Beachcomber's recent emails.’
      • ‘Sexual assault, like physical assault, is a frequent event experienced by street prostitutes.’
      • ‘Rugby is a contact sport that involves physical collisions among its players.’
      • ‘They are vulnerable to physical assault, sexual harassment, and rape, and their experiences and fears have tended not to be taken seriously.’
      • ‘Abuse of a child can mean physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.’
      manual, labouring, blue-collar
      earthly, worldly, terrestrial, earthbound, non-spiritual, unspiritual, material
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  • 2Relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete.

    ‘the physical world’
    • ‘Moreover, the piece only refers to a concrete physical setting twice.’
    • ‘For these are paintings in the traditional sense: unique physical objects which display the marks of craft and have a real presence.’
    • ‘Common sense says that the physical environment has an impact on productivity.’
    • ‘The social tone and ethos of the school are both very positive as too is the overall quality of the actual physical working environment.’
    • ‘It has a physical presence - a sense of weight - that computer generated effects lack.’
    • ‘What you are able to perceive of the physical world is actually very fragmentary.’
    • ‘When I say this, what I express is not my wish for a pure poetry, but a concrete, physical attitude.’
    • ‘These are tangible, physical assets and totally unlike the stock of a typical NYSE company.’
    • ‘Most businesses deal with the physical assets and the environment within, but have never looked at the people.’
    • ‘Another issue, in design writing at least, is that online writing is separated from a tangible physical object.’
    • ‘We have a moral sense that we use to make moral observations, in the same way as we use our physical senses to make physical observations.’
    • ‘A further ambiguity lies in our inability to determine if this availability is merely visual, or if it involves possession in a physical sense.’
    • ‘I can't STAND, for example, to start out with a sense of the actual physical shape a poem is going to take.’
    • ‘The man and his sheep and, indeed, the paint and paper itself, provide the only physical sense of solidity.’
    • ‘The actual physical objects in the environment that we see make up the contents of our experience.’
    • ‘Like so many things, it's a combination of social reality with a tangible, physical reality.’
    • ‘The media used to transport this information are, in a very real sense, the physical highways over which it travels.’
    • ‘This type of allocation is a physical transfer of a tangible asset from the company to the investors.’
    • ‘Most life forms on Earth consist of organic carbon, while inorganic carbon may dominate the visible physical environment.’
    • ‘My desire is to bring the viewer out of the gallery space and into the actual physical environment of the lakebed.’
    material, substantial, solid, concrete, tangible, palpable, visible, real, actual
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  • 3Relating to physics or the operation of natural forces generally.

    ‘physical laws’
    • ‘Today we understand most of these things in terms of physical forces acting under impersonal laws.’
    • ‘Feynman's work is filled with the sort of raw physical insight that physicists love and admire.’
    • ‘According to Bridgman, every physical concept is defined by the operations a physicist uses to apply it.’
    • ‘Certainly, before Newton, the very idea of physical law was at best a blur.’
    • ‘When we discuss phase changes to matter, physical forces create the changes.’


  • 1A medical examination to determine a person's bodily fitness.

    ‘at fifty-something, each year's physical was a kind of lottery’
    • ‘She loved going to the doctor's office and insisted on having a complete physical at every visit.’
    • ‘History and physical with a complete neurologic exam are essential.’
    • ‘Just before school was to start, I received a notice from the Navy to report to Oakland Reserve Base for a physical.’
    • ‘Within one week of school start, I was ordered to report for a physical.’
    • ‘The three-year deal for about US $9 million cannot be finalized until he passes a physical.’
    • ‘Patients of all ages came for medical care, physicals, immunizations and reassurance.’
    • ‘The 49ers have the option of voiding the trade because Whiting failed a physical.’
    • ‘Instead of the usual physical involving an array of tests by specialists, the exams were conducted in two phases.’
    • ‘Having a doctor conduct a thorough physical could prevent a tragedy.’
    • ‘None of these programs provide primary HIV care, although medical staff at each conduct annual physical examinations, perform urinalysis and blood counts, and skin test for tuberculosis.’
    • ‘On the floor, someone had dropped a gown like the kind you wore for a physical.’
    • ‘Were you anxious or nervous about going to a doctor for a complete physical?’
    • ‘Recently, Shari had a physical which including ultrasonic testing of her abdomen to determine the cause of pain.’
    • ‘The nurse practitioners obtained patients' medical histories and did physical examinations preoperatively, ordered laboratory tests, and taught patients about what to expect.’
    • ‘This time it wouldn't be a full physical, but a good thorough scan should alert the physician to any illness.’
    • ‘He tried to join the Navy, but failed the physical.’
    • ‘Planning to treat yourself to a complete physical for the New Year?’
    • ‘A healthy child from an area of high endemicity receives an annual physical.’
    • ‘He had been plagued by serious injuries, and the Texans didn't think he could pass a physical.’
    • ‘It would have been for naught, alas, as later in the day Wright passed a second physical done by Dr. Jim Andrews.’
  • 2physicalsStock Market
    Stocks held in actual commodities for immediate exchange, for example as opposed to futures.

    ‘the exchange of futures for physicals’
    • ‘It gives great advice on how one can profit from silver via physicals, futures and stocks.’
    • ‘In addition to the over-the-counter trading in physicals, there has been a huge increase in exchange-traded financial contracts.’


  • get physical

    • 1Become aggressive or violent.

      ‘now the players are even getting physical with the refs’
      • ‘The newspaper followed up on the death of a black club patron who was suffocated by a white bouncer when a dispute over the club's dress code got physical.’
      • ‘As good as their zone-blocking schemes and cutback style can be, when things get physical, they will usually lose.’
      • ‘It almost got physical between the two but old man Barnes was here and broke it up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am very lucky, because I am not the kind of person who gets physical.’
      • ‘It got physical soon enough and I watched him beat my mother ruthlessly.’
      • ‘They fought over the controller for a good 20 minutes until their mom's had to separate them because they were getting physical.’
      • ‘They even joked about what would happen if their competition got physical.’
      • ‘Or maybe it was fortunate for Bryant that he's smart enough to let words fuel the fire and not get physical with Shaq.’
      • ‘Her father was getting physical, he ended up hitting Chris in the jaw with the back of his hand.’
    • 2Become sexually intimate with someone.

      ‘I had a strong feeling that, by the end of the day, she and I would get physical’
      • ‘I think that's good, because it's such an intense world that we're creating, so finding the right moment for people to get physical is going to take time.’
      • ‘Was I just desperate to get physical with someone, it didn't matter who, because I hadn't in months?’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘He met a girl and they got physical pretty quickly.’
      • ‘We also got physical very much earlier in the relationship than I wanted to.’
      • ‘You were getting physical with Sam and he took off.’
      • ‘I was in a long-distance relationship for two years, and one thing we noticed was the amount of time it takes to get physical again after a period apart.’
      • ‘Though I'm not worried he'll get physical with her, I am uneasy.’
      • ‘For instance, Rhonda would say that even though she was getting physical with her trainer, their relationship was mainly about her need to lose pounds and inches off her figure.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘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.