Definition of classic in English:



  • 1Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.

    ‘a classic novel’
    ‘a classic car’
    • ‘Charlotte is the author of the classic novel Jane Eyre, one of the top 20 most popular reads in the country.’
    • ‘The way they all spoke of it, it sounded like classic Americana.’
    • ‘Twelfth Night is the classic Shakespearean comedy revolving around disguise, misunderstanding and love.’
    • ‘Yes it is a tad flaky but it's also classic Hollywood high-concept cuteness.’
    • ‘Many unique and now classic cases are described in the nine chapters of this book.’
    • ‘The qualities of letter forms at their best are the qualities of a classic time: order, simplicity, grace.’
    • ‘I worked on films one after the other and after a while they all sort of blend together and you don't get the feeling it was a classic period in your life.’
    • ‘While architects have often drawn on the past to embellish their schemes, few have so comprehensively taken so much from one classic period.’
    • ‘Provided you know the rules, investing in a classic car is an ideal way to get your hands on a sporty roadster or upmarket saloon for a fraction of the price you'd pay for a new model.’
    • ‘She was still interpreting great, great classic songs.’
    • ‘People are quick to defend the first season as classic comedy.’
    • ‘During his recuperation period he listened to classic hip-hop albums and decided he would become a rapper.’
    • ‘The story is a classic tale of an unaccountable bureaucracy versus the little guy.’
    • ‘Finding the ideal location took as long as finding a rare classic car.’
    • ‘You name one classic song that's come out of this new breed of bands.’
    • ‘Overall I was very impressed with the quality of classic car that I saw at the show.’
    • ‘I'd still like to see a stylish remake of this classic tale.’
    • ‘Carefully-chosen classic antiques and quality paintings should yield solid returns over time.’
    • ‘Indeed, it is the view taken in many of what are now classic plant anatomy texts.’
    • ‘It will happily cruise along all day at around 70 mph, which makes it an ideal classic car for those who expect to be doing a fair few miles on a regular basis.’
    definitive, authoritative
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    1. 1.1(of a garment or design) of a simple elegant style not greatly subject to changes in fashion.
      ‘this classic navy blazer’
      • ‘A necktie is so classic it is almost a joke, but it doesn't have to be!’
      • ‘The breathable, lightweight garments come in simple, classic designs.’
      • ‘This time around he went for being modern, by encompassing modern styles and techniques with Chanel's intricate classic designs.’
      • ‘She loves pink for what it represents: femininity, elegance and classic style.’
      • ‘Other than that, it's an awesome take on a classic design.’
      • ‘Purists may object to the use of stainless steel in such a traditional classic design but I don't see it that way at all.’
      • ‘For evening, her navy tuxedo jacket has satin trim on the collar, pocket and sleeves, and is a modern twist on a classic design.’
      • ‘You'll find classic designs for a wide range of tastes and styles, including necklaces, bracelets and hair charms.’
      • ‘These designs take a classic style and make it even more sophisticated.’
      • ‘Get with the trend and purchase this classic jean jacket style corduroy jacket.’
      • ‘The timeless classic designs are well represented by the charming all-around necklace with dainty crystal pace elements.’
      • ‘Only the more classic styles will pass with a dressy outfit.’
      • ‘It's a very classic design which is simple and honest.’
      • ‘Pair neutral pants with a classic shirt color like navy blue, and your belt can be either brown or black.’
      • ‘This jacket can be worn with sleek pants and a stylish shirt, or a classic sweater and jeans.’
      • ‘The fit is more predictable, thanks to consumer research that has simplified most of the women's pants designs into modern and classic styles.’
      • ‘If you live in your jeans, classic styles like relaxed fit transfer well from year to year.’
      • ‘If you are more conservative and don't follow fashion trends, opt for a classic suit.’
      • ‘For more vibrantly classic dresses, these two would be the winner.’
      • ‘The white fur shawl and the light brown loose trousers blend beautifully with her simple, classic hair style.’
      simple, elegant, understated, uncluttered, restrained
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  • 2Remarkably and instructively typical.

    ‘Hamlet is the classic example of a tragedy’
    ‘I had all the classic symptoms of flu’
    • ‘He developed all the classic symptoms but not all at once.’
    • ‘Some heart attacks have the classic symptoms you see on television or in the movies - where someone clutches their chest and writhes in excruciating pain.’
    • ‘Wednesday night was a classic case of the symptom which has hampered the team for as long as I can remember - even when I was playing.’
    • ‘Random glucose testing is easy and inexpensive; elevated levels in patients with classic symptoms should be confirmed by a second test.’
    • ‘One classic example of the so-called fiscal drag applies to benefits paid by companies to their employees.’
    • ‘Fortunately in Cambridge there are several of the former and one classic example of the latter.’
    • ‘We may have the classic symptoms of the workaholic - the compulsion to spend hours away from home, the misplaced feeling of virtue - but none of this is proof we are accomplishing anything.’
    • ‘The report claims the retail pharmacy market exhibits a number of the classic symptoms of potential market failure.’
    • ‘You're looking at the classic symptoms that the dog demonstrates.’
    • ‘I could not think of a more classic case where psychology was needed as a strategy to induce learning.’
    • ‘Runny nose, sore throat, dry cough, headache, aching muscles and a high fever are the classic symptoms of influenza.’
    • ‘In newborn and small infants, the classic symptoms may be harder to detect.’
    • ‘Each subsequent rainy season left a slowly growing number of locals stricken with the classic symptoms of fever and nausea.’
    • ‘The classic allergy symptoms such as stuffiness, eczema, wheezing, and itching may be absent, yet cognition and behavior remain affected.’
    • ‘They are the classic cartoon character archetypes - the trio of the nice guy, the angry guy, and the dumb guy.’
    • ‘When those patients are evaluated, almost half of them have a normal pumping function of the heart, despite having all the classic signs and symptoms of heart failure.’
    • ‘Doctors failed to properly investigate a woman with a family history of heart disease who died within a year of showing classic symptoms of a heart condition, it was alleged yesterday.’
    • ‘Many patients don't have classic symptoms, however.’
    • ‘Let's look at the classic symptoms of the passive-aggressive syndrome.’
    • ‘It is for the classic flu symptoms of dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.’
    typical, archetypal, quintessential, vintage
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  • 1A work of art of recognized and established value.

    ‘his books have become classics’
    • ‘The latter, in fact, has become an enduring American classic.’
    • ‘Her works are widely read and taught and bear the hallmarks of enduring American classics.’
    • ‘So I have my own peculiar view of modern classics of American literature.’
    • ‘Interestingly, it is not the bestsellers but classics and literary books that find place at these counters.’
    • ‘Think of the recognised classics of American cinema and they seem organic, inviolate.’
    • ‘What make this movie such a classic is its entertainment value plus its originality.’
    • ‘Ideas and concepts in the book met with vigorous opposition, but today the book is recognized as a classic that was far ahead of its time.’
    • ‘Well represented on the various top 100 lists, it has remained a timeless classic.’
    • ‘In the process, they offer up the definitive home video version of this horror classic.’
    • ‘In 1883, he published Treasure Island, a much beloved children's classic.’
    • ‘It's not just current movies - classics and cult films are available.’
    • ‘Imagine if we could all value each other as much as we value the classics of literature.’
    • ‘Their program of four operas includes three recognized classics and one new work that has already won many important prizes in China.’
    • ‘The film was an instant cult classic, and rumours of a sequel have floated around the Internet for years.’
    • ‘So, he started to read Western literary classics.’
    • ‘Students at Manchester University no longer need to thumb through dusty texts when reading classics of English literature.’
    • ‘But it still has the power to enchant, and is a true modern classic.’
    • ‘His repertoire spans traditional pop classics and folk music.’
    • ‘The movie went on to become a timeless classic, popular around the world.’
    • ‘The music has a cinematic quality which conjures up images of film noir classics.’
    definitive example, model, epitome, paradigm, exemplar, prototype
    outstanding example, paragon, great work, masterpiece, masterwork
    established work, standard
    pièce de résistance
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    1. 1.1A garment of a simple, elegant, and long-lasting style.
      • ‘Don't hesitate to purchase solid pattern suits because they will always remain classics.’
      • ‘From the classics and the power ties, to the coolest retro neckties around, dress for success with these 12 options.’
      • ‘As for colors, blue is the most popular color for jeans and will remain a timeless classic.’
      • ‘High quality clothing lasts longer and classics don't lose their style.’
      • ‘The diverse sectors of the fair covered the gamut of the all menswear has to offer, from the classics to the avant-garde to sportswear all at demonstrating the peak of quality.’
      • ‘The various pieces defined a lifestyle but their innate functionality outside of the rural setting makes them potential modern classics that work just as well in the city.’
      • ‘Soft and natural made from the most futuristic materials possible, this year's trend gives way to the super modern as well as the modernized return of the sixties classics.’
      • ‘The Burberry trenchcoat is a style classic which has influenced other manufacturers.’
      • ‘The stones of jewelry have also changed over the decades though some classics remain constant.’
      • ‘Keep in mind that frames consisting of a simple square, rectangle, oval or round shapes are classics that can work with everything.’
      • ‘Buy only natural fabrics, and start with the classics - plain white and blue shirts, black, grey, and navy suits, blue blazer, wool trousers.’
      • ‘While trends are instantly recognizable by length, pattern, or decoration, classics transcend time with their cut, style, and fabric.’
      • ‘Giddy up into the spirit of the west with timeless, rugged classics rather than hokey duds.’
      • ‘Traditional classics (we don't call them conservative) are still dominant, but styles that are trendier have a definite place.’
      • ‘The following accessories are also classics, and you'll be able to wear them for many years to come.’
      • ‘It is one of their classics, they always have it in my size, it comes in a lot of colors, and I can order it without trying it on.’
      • ‘Black is a timeless classic that suits every person and occasion.’
      • ‘It is a classic hunting jacket that has been around for decades and is as good as ever.’
      • ‘Keep in mind, however, that they'll never go out of style because they are pretty much classics.’
      • ‘Instead, opt for solid colors such as plain whites, blacks and grays; they're classics and can easily be matched with the rest of your wardrobe.’
    2. 1.2A thing that is memorable and a very good example of its kind.
      ‘he's hoping that tomorrow's game will be a classic’
      • ‘A fur-and-pearls clientele come to be comforted with well-cooked classics such as tortellini al tartufo.’
      • ‘Football's most elemental rivalry was providing the defining classic of the genre.’
      • ‘The duel is a cautionary classic as well as a textbook example of strategy.’
      • ‘His chicken curry, for example, is a retro classic made with Granny Smith apples, chicken stock and desiccated coconut.’
      • ‘The menus are a modern take on comfort classics.’
      • ‘Crowds flocked to the dockside to admire the fine array of classics, which included elegant Triumphs and the rather rugged armed vehicles driven by the 14 Signal Regiment.’
      • ‘Certain classics stand out in both media - but it would be stretching it to say they had a separate influence on my opinions.’
      • ‘With this in mind, we talk about portraits and view examples of classics.’
      • ‘Modern cruise ships would not win prizes for good looks, particularly when compared to elegant pre-war classics such as the Queen Mary or the Normandie.’
      • ‘The waffle-lined basket is a comfortable classic and easy to keep looking fresh, as the lining can be removed and put through a hot wash whenever it starts to look tired and grubby.’
      • ‘The examples are a mixture of classics from the past, as well as new examples.’
      • ‘The sad truth is that this doesn't dig up some underappreciated geniuses or lost classics of Northeastern counterculture.’
  • 2A school subject that involves the study of ancient Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, and history.

    • ‘He was educated at Malvern College and University College Oxford on a Classics scholarship.’
    • ‘I transferred out to go to Saint John's College, where I immersed myself in the Classics and Ancient Greek, then I went back to Marlboro and studied Literature and Philosophy.’
    • ‘The Linguistics and Classics departments, for example, both of whom have three or fewer full time faculty, will most likely be unable to make the adjustment.’
    • ‘French, German, Latin and Classics are offered by the school supported by a variety of trips abroad to encourage learning new skills.’
    • ‘That aspect of his career began when he was just six years old, and his mother was studying Sophocles' Antigone as part of a university Classics course.’
    • ‘And, as every arts student knows, scientists are nothing more than sullen interlopers: Classics was studied here several centuries before physics, proving that medieval monks knew what was important.’
    • ‘It suited a society that wanted a select few to pursue the life of the mind, through immersing themselves in such fusty subjects as Classics or philosophy, while everybody else did something less useless instead.’
    • ‘He was a Harvard undergrad, a classics major.’
    • ‘He taught Classics at Birmingham University, 1929-36.’
    • ‘A little under seven years ago I left a doctorate in Classics that I'd been undertaking at Bristol University.’
    • ‘He graduated with honours in Classics from Melbourne University despite leaving Ormond after a row.’
    • ‘His Oxford doctorate in Classics, earned studying Latin ghost stories and adultery tales, is of little relevance to this.’
    • ‘We are not looking, then, at aspirational youngsters being given a leg-up to study Classics, or any such romantic nonsense.’
    • ‘The author is Research Fellow at the Centre for Classics and Archaeological Studies, University of Melbourne.’
    • ‘The book grew out of a lecture course that I delivered over several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s to final-year undergraduate students in the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge University.’
    • ‘I was an English major for a year before I decided to study Classics.’
    • ‘Social Science was her favourite subject and she hated Classics.’
    1. 2.1The works of ancient Greek and Latin writers and philosophers.
      • ‘The philosophes of the Enlightenment were familiar with all of these arguments, trained as they were in the classics.’
      • ‘He was not especially intelligent, indeed he was quite unintellectual, lacking a deep understanding of law, of the classics, of theology.’
      • ‘As a reaction to the Middle Ages, in the early renaissance, there was a strong focus on a classical education consisting of Greek, Latin, the classics, and art.’
      • ‘As a young man he enjoyed skiing in Aspen, Colo. and spent many summers traveling in England and Italy to consult with other scholars in the Classics.’
      • ‘Also the way he approaches the classics, indeed, the way he approaches all of history, is examined afresh.’
      • ‘Scholars should know the Classics and be familiar with the literary collections written by Chinese scholars because the Chinese have a superior culture.’
      • ‘His own education was scholarly and he could read Latin and was familiar with the classics.’
      • ‘He was in one sense a classical, Renaissance playwright, but his was a classicism that used and abused the classics rather than felt itself hidebound by them.’
      • ‘Stripped of his offices in 1688, he returned with success to the theatre, and began a brilliant series of translations from the classics, particularly Virgil's Aeneid and The Georgics.’
      • ‘Even so, solid grounding in the Latin classics was still regarded as the essential foundation of a superior education.’
      • ‘This was a strategic way of legitimizing their own ideas, but it also reflected a genuine respect for many of the insights of the classics.’
      • ‘He was an ardent student of the classics, especially of Plato, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, a devotee of liberty of thought, and an amateur of art.’
      • ‘This prevailing linguistic approach to the Classics meant that the study of Ancient History was well nigh ignored in the Public Schools.’
      • ‘One of the major characteristics of this Renaissance was the rediscovery of numerous Latin classics.’
      • ‘It's become very unfashionable to read the Classics, the Greeks and the Romans, and their literature.’
      • ‘Between 1660 and 1789, the Latin language, and the Latin literary classics, remained the basis of secondary education.’
      • ‘The role of the public school was to educate potential political leaders and gentlemen, and the bulk of a public school curriculum reflected the liberal arts through the classics.’
      • ‘He had also read all the Latin classics, which he placed into four divisions: historians, poets, orators and philosophers.’
      • ‘In this sphere, as always, he was indebted to the classics, but the new research also showed that he was paying careful attention to contemporary events.’
      • ‘He had a good grounding in the classics and became well versed in Greek and Latin.’
    2. 2.2dated A scholar of ancient Greek and Latin.
  • 3A major sports tournament or competition, as in golf or tennis.

    ‘dozens of celebrity golfers attended the Bob Hope Desert Classic’
    • ‘So the Classics and the World Cup races are your target this year?’
    • ‘The annual Gerry Gaughan Memorial Sarsfields Golf Classic takes place on Saturday, June 5th.’
    • ‘Holmes won the English Championship and Jebb won the Lakeland Classics.’
    • ‘The club will hold their Golf Classic at Borris Golf Club on Friday, June 26.’
    • ‘They also have a Dubai Desert Tennis, Snooker, Cricket, Soccer and even Table Tennis Classic.’
    • ‘The annual Dunhill Golf Classic will be held at Waterford Castle on Friday, 12 th August.’
    • ‘Below are the results of the Crossmolina Deel Rovers Golf Classic held in Ballina Golf Club on Saturday, May 22.’
    • ‘A Poker Classic will be held on Sunday.’
    • ‘Monday there was a large turnout at the Galway Bay Golf and Country Club for a Golf Classic.’
    • ‘The Sir Alex Ferguson Golf Classic and Gala Dinner takes place on Friday, July 19.’
    • ‘New Mexico travels to Texas Tech to play in the Hispanic College Fund Football Classic.’
    • ‘But the Wildcats melted in a season-opening 41-7 loss at Penn State in the Kickoff Classic.’
    • ‘The annual Billy Heffron Chamber Golf Classic is taking place this year on Saturday the 24th of September in Ballina Golf Club.’
    • ‘Please do not forget the Golf Classic at Ardattin Golf Course.’
    • ‘The Abbey Community College Parents Association will hold a Golf Classic in Waterford Golf Club this Friday May 6th.’
    • ‘Foxford's Hope House Golf Classic was held on Monday, September 3rd, at Galway Bay Golf and Country club.’
    • ‘The Golf Classic is in aid of Charlestown Christmas Lights.’
    • ‘Austin Peay won the Top of the World Classic over South Florida and Colorado.’
    • ‘The 11 th Gallaudet University Biennial Congressional Basketball Classic will take place tonight.’
    • ‘There is a Golf Classic in Cloverhill organised for Saturday, July 10.’


Note that classic means ‘typical, excellent as an example, timeless,’ as in John Ford directed many classic Westerns, and classical means ‘relating to Greek or Roman antiquity,’ as in the museum was built in the classical style. Great art is considered classic, not classical, unless it is created in the forms of antiquity. Classical music is one exception to this rule, being formal music adhering to certain stylistic principles of the late 18th century. A classical education exposes a student to classical literature, history, and languages (especially Latin and Greek), but the study of Greek and Latin languages and their literatures is also referred to as the classics


Early 17th century: from French classique or Latin classicus belonging to a class or division later of the highest class from classis (see class).