Definition of practical in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘But she also did something practical toward creating economic wealth for that community.’
    • ‘There is probably no single school that regularly turns out graduates with solid grounding in all the areas of design, theory, and practical experience.’
    • ‘Overall, the training will be intensive with extensive practical exercises and actual application of foreign language skills.’
    • ‘So let's look at his theory in practical application.’
    • ‘And the region's scientists and researchers have tended to concentrate on finding practical applications rather than unraveling basic principles.’
    • ‘The focus is on research and theory, rather than practical matters of assessment and intervention.’
    • ‘This is not just a theory, it's practical experience.’
    • ‘From a purely practical standpoint, this is a very nice DVD set.’
    • ‘The disputes were usually about small things, some of which had no actual ramifications in the practical application of Jewish law.’
    • ‘The first half of the day would be devoted to the theory of lighting and photography, with the second half being practical application of the theories.’
    • ‘More practical application of Metz's work to a North American context still remains.’
    • ‘Internships and co-op opportunities turn classroom theory into practical, hands-on experience.’
    • ‘We try to keep abreast of the new treatments, but have gained little practical experience of using them.’
    • ‘The ethical and practical ramifications were experienced rather than taught.’
    • ‘They serve a practical purpose: handling 88 percent of the development's stormwater.’
    • ‘His descriptions and observations go directly to the practical application of theory to the hard realities of congregational song.’
    • ‘And so I have to admit I don't see practical applications of string theory at the moment.’
    • ‘One practical implication is that there exists a variety of ways to establish a repertoire.’
    • ‘Being encouraged to do something practical made an incalculable difference to my moods.’
    • ‘Consideration of such uncertainty is important if qualitatively different theoretical and practical implications arise.’
    empirical, hands-on, pragmatic, real, actual, active, applied, experiential, experimental, non-theoretical, in the field
    View synonyms
  • 2(of an idea, plan, or method) likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances; feasible.

    ‘neither of these strategies are practical for smaller businesses’
    • ‘Depending on travel agencies for sorting out most of the plans is also a practical way of going on a road tour.’
    • ‘I think that's the kind of solution that might be very practical.’
    • ‘Both approaches have merit but it may not yet be practical to use one universal format for all project documents.’
    • ‘It is the only practical way you can plan your profit in the future.’
    • ‘Judges would have no real practical way of testing or assessing the reliability of intelligence information presented to them.’
    • ‘Still, it doesn't seem practical how she resolves things with George.’
    • ‘Eminently practical advice was interspersed with stirring statements of principle.’
    • ‘The book does say it was written by mothers, for mothers, full of eminently practical advice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This isn't merely an old-fashioned system, but an effective, practical way to reduce pests and diseases and to help keep your soil healthy and fertile.’
    • ‘A number of alternative more practical methods have been suggested.’
    • ‘Until now, there has been no cost - effective, practical way to meet our volume and throughput requirements.’
    • ‘"When the kids were younger, going abroad just didn't seem practical.’
    • ‘Chemoradiation therapy will probably prove a more feasible and practical means of achieving similar benefit.’
    • ‘Designers of the winning entries will then be able to prove to commercial organisations that their ideas are practical, effective and worth investing in.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is necessary that we reach a consensus on such issues, and conduct research and training to develop practical procedures which can effectively deal with disasters.’
    • ‘Almost half of the participants felt that the workshop gave them effective and practical strategies to use when dealing with teachers and students.’
    • ‘There's no need to dismiss an idea because it doesn't seem practical.’
    • ‘This article describes principles and practical procedures for effective communication and simple interventions.’
    feasible, practicable, realistic, viable, workable, possible, within the bounds of possibility, within the realms of possibility, reasonable, sensible, useful, helpful, constructive
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Suitable for a particular purpose.
      ‘a practical, stylish kitchen’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are tuned single actions still practical for regular use.’
      • ‘The scientists expect to make these cells practical to use within just 2 years.’
      • ‘The reason is they're practical, and, in a gunshop, they are most appropriate.’
      functional, serviceable, sensible, useful, utilitarian, utility, everyday, workaday, ordinary
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 (of a person) sensible and realistic in their approach to a situation or problem.
      ‘I'm merely being practical—we must find a ground-floor flat’
      • ‘She's very practical about the acting business.’
      • ‘She's just a hard-headed, practical girl, sharp enough to see how much trouble she's in, but not sharp enough to do a whole lot about it.’
      • ‘Our Master's not a very practical man, nor a realistic one.’
      • ‘We must be practical enough to realise that the economic situation of the State or the people can never improve magically with any settlement unless measures are taken in advance.’
      • ‘At the same time, this next generation of women is too practical, pragmatic, and tough-minded to be dismissed as ideologues.’
      • ‘They know that I'm very practical, very pragmatic.’
      • ‘We have long prided ourselves as being an exceedingly pragmatic and practical people.’
      • ‘Now, both in football and business terms, the practical person in us cannot blame Shepherd for not sacking the miscreants, even if the principled part demands them being cast out.’
      • ‘These are practical thinkers who strive to make sensible and affordable compromises and alterations to the dreams.’
      • ‘All reasonable and practical people will know that there cannot be much deliberation or discussion about such an initiative.’
      • ‘No, she was still the prickly, ornery, far too practical person she had always been, even in matters of sentiment.’
      • ‘He was a practical politician, and wanted a pragmatic solution - preferably on one sheet of A4.’
      • ‘You need to be more realistic and practical and view situations from another perspective.’
      • ‘He was a practical man, a pragmatic builder of empire!’
      • ‘While many people might imagine the writer's life is one of poetry and romance, she took a very practical and hard-headed approach to the project.’
      • ‘To the world and to herself, she was a no-nonsense, practical woman who scoffed at indulgence and spurned luxury.’
      • ‘And besides, though he was as practical and realistic as his father, he was also as principled and as headstrong and as stubborn as his mother, so he would follow in his father's footsteps.’
      • ‘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, pragmatic, businesslike, matter-of-fact, reasonable, rational, commonsensical, hard-headed, no-nonsense, with both feet on the ground, with one's feet on the ground
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 (of a person) skilled at manual tasks.
      ‘Steve'll fix it—he's quite practical’
      • ‘He was a very practical man and was skilled in the wireless detection system which we now call radar.’
      skilful, skilled, dexterous, deft, nimble-fingered, adroit, able, adept, proficient, capable
      View synonyms
  • 3So nearly the case that it can be regarded as so; virtual.

    ‘for all practical purposes, she's his girlfriend’
    • ‘Should the law extend the definition beyond purpose to cover the awareness of the practical certainty that the crew would be killed?’
    • ‘There is practical certainty as to payment, and that contingency does not affect the existence of the liability.’
    virtual, effective, in effect
    View synonyms


  • An examination or lesson in which theories and procedures learned are applied to the actual making or doing of something.

    • ‘The survey of heads of science found that fears over dangerous behaviour had stopped practicals in 57% of schools.’
    • ‘I started learning the process, through practicals first, then theory.’
    • ‘Academic work comprised 60 per cent practicals and 40 per cent theory.’
    • ‘For the practicals, you might have to taste five vintages of a first - rate Bordeaux and decide which wine was which year.’
    • ‘It involves 75 per cent practicals and 25 per cent theory.’
    • ‘Teachers and students have responded positively to a proposal to break up the Leaving Certificate exams into two sittings with some papers, practicals or project work taken earlier in the year.’
    • ‘The exams are just around the corner and students are bogged down with preparation work for practicals and orals but the Transition year students found time to raise funds for those less fortunate.’
    • ‘The students have to do practicals and projects too.’
    • ‘There is no laboratory for science practicals, class rooms are less in number, there are few teachers and no drinking water.’
    • ‘But when I turned 15, I abandoned the study of science, having been warned that practicals in the afternoon would not permit me to play cricket at University.’
    • ‘The programme had theory and practicals sessions.’
    • ‘Secondly he found that physics practicals did not suit him, so in the end the move towards mathematics became a natural one to make.’
    • ‘We do need to teach this stuff, but that does not require virus writing practicals, just as police officer training does not require murder practicals.’
    • ‘At Junior Cert level, deadlines are looming for home economics and metalwork projects, and practicals in home economics and music are set to begin at the end of the month.’
    • ‘Hundreds of schools across the country are routinely cancelling science practicals because of lack of equipment and funding.’
    • ‘Besides, chemistry practicals including salt analysis and testing samples and results are explained through animation.’
    • ‘Some unfortunate chemist got caught and made an example of, and the system of scrutiny for science practicals was tightened up til it squeaked.’
    • ‘If it goes on after Easter, then there will be major confusion when the orals and the practicals begin.’
    • ‘It is quite intensive, requiring students to attend classes and practicals from 8am to 5pm and continue working on assignments throughout the evening.’
    • ‘It means they are on their own on the final hurdle of a seemingly endless slog of course work, mock examinations, orals, practicals and revision which began in year nine.’
    test, exam, paper, question paper, oral, practical, assessment
    View synonyms


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.