Definition of classical in US English:



  • 1Relating to ancient Greek or Latin literature, art, or culture.

    ‘classical mythology’
    • ‘Feasting can be either an inclusive or an exclusive activity, as we know from many sources from classical antiquity and modern ethnography.’
    • ‘However, the corrosive effect of such exposure to classical culture must not be exaggerated.’
    • ‘Throughout classical literature, the virtues of peace were extolled, and the evils of war denounced.’
    • ‘He teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, along with courses in classical mythology and Greek literature and culture.’
    • ‘The monks also kept alive classical culture and introduced the techniques of efficient and profitable land management.’
    • ‘These too were part of the literary air he naturally breathed, and into his prose he would frequently work some turn of phrase taken from classical Latin literature.’
    • ‘Painters of all styles and schools, from the most playful and sensual rococo to the most severely neoclassical, routinely took their subjects from classical mythology and history.’
    • ‘Diphtheria has probably existed since classical antiquity, but it was not identified as a specific disease until 1819.’
    • ‘It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.’
    • ‘Moreover, carrying on with the classical literary order was a means of mitigating the downturn in Roman affairs since the days of the ancients.’
    • ‘But the balance in the secondary schools of Europe was overwhelmingly in favour of classical culture.’
    • ‘As a young man, Erasmus believed that northern Europeans knew nothing of classical antiquity - his career sought to remedy this barbarism.’
    • ‘We take this foundation for granted, for the simple reason that the Greeks of the classical age seemed to have discovered so many things which today matter a great deal.’
    • ‘Some chiefs probably visited Rome itself and thus had contact with classical culture.’
    • ‘These common readings reveal that a large population of Florence would have been able to understand the Christian, classical, and literary themes in art.’
    • ‘However, there were other Church Fathers who defended the value of studying classical literature and philosophy.’
    • ‘It acted as a conduit for the recovery of much of the learning of classical culture.’
    • ‘He used ancient, classical, and contemporary collections of travel narratives, which were closest in scholarly method to English antiquarianism.’
    • ‘His classicism is evident not only in his frequent quotations from classical literature, but often in his style.’
    • ‘Many cultures in the ancient and classical world built canals to extend the irrigation provided by rivers.’
    ancient greek, grecian, hellenic, attic
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    1. 1.1 (of art or architecture) influenced by ancient Greek or Roman forms or principles.
      • ‘During this time he arrived at his synthesis of forms inspired by such divergent sources as classical sculpture, folk art and popular theater.’
      • ‘These grandly conceived spaces, together with the smaller ancillary rooms, constituted an extraordinary museum of classical art.’
      • ‘At the assembly, as also in other events, those in senior classes can perform only classical art forms and dramas.’
      • ‘The irony is that the official programme is not particularly elitist, either in terms of classical art forms or cutting-edge postmodernism.’
      • ‘Her profile recalls Greek classical sculpture as well as fashion mannequins of the period.’
      • ‘He teaches and writes regularly on classical architecture and design.’
      • ‘An inclination toward classical art and, most likely, the residual Protestantism of her Canadian-Scottish heritage were also evident.’
      • ‘It is avowedly anti-modernist, employing the language of classical art and architecture to lure his audience in before hitting them with something unexpectedly punchy.’
      • ‘His asymmetries make the kind of gratifying sense that symmetry makes in classical art.’
      • ‘An educational program was set up, and promising youth were sent on government-sponsored tours of Europe to learn about classical art and architecture.’
      • ‘The building has a significant presence at the entrance to the campus and evokes the sense of order and balance characteristic of classical architecture.’
      • ‘Here, his great palace imitated and even incorporated examples of late classical art and architecture.’
      • ‘The museum now plans to find a way to display the Heroon of Trysa; one of the major monuments of classical art, it remains in storage.’
      • ‘No better model will be found to illustrate the principles of classical interior architecture.’
      • ‘When the military returned to power in 1976, it promoted classical art forms.’
      • ‘It went to prove that if the classical art forms were losing out to modern times, the fault was with the audience and not with the art.’
      • ‘I'd been traveling across Greece and Turkey with a small group of college students, studying Byzantine and classical art and architecture.’
      • ‘18th century artists and theorists were in a position to take a new look at classical art.’
      • ‘He has been inspired by the French tapestries of the medieval period, as well as classical architecture and exotic animals.’
      • ‘In An Allegory, for example, the composition invokes the sublime order of classical art.’
      simple, pure, restrained, plain, austere
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  • 2(typically of a form of art) regarded as representing an exemplary standard; traditional and long-established in form or style.

    ‘a classical ballet’
    • ‘This piece is also the furthest from the traditional style of classical ballet and offers a good reflection of the state of contemporary ballet.’
    • ‘This approach captures the essence of the classical liberal tradition concerning the rule of law and individualism, while avoiding some of its own ambiguities.’
    • ‘The show is a massive concert featuring a variety of different dance styles including tap, classical ballet, modern jazz and national character.’
    • ‘I improvise and sing within the classical tradition.’
    • ‘The concert started in full-on classical style, before being broken up by a small foray into traditional Irish songs.’
    • ‘The album merges sounds and influences from East and West, and stretches the boundaries of musical experimentation by fusing traditional folk songs and classical styles with the popular.’
    • ‘The play is a unique piece bringing together elements of Australian mythology and culture - a far cry from the traditional, classical European-based ballets.’
    • ‘But one thing is clear: The mood is frivolous, with most designers steering clear of traditional and classical styles and opting instead for adventure.’
    • ‘In 1998 she started English Youth Ballet to give young dancers outside London an opportunity to perform classical ballet within a professional setting.’
    • ‘These are imaginary landscapes, but within the rich classical Western landscape tradition.’
    • ‘The traditional repertoire of most classical dance styles is strongly based on the stories and characteristics surrounding divinity in Hinduism.’
    • ‘The traditional classical concert establishes a whole set of formal relationships before even a note has sounded.’
    • ‘They fall squarely within the tradition of classical word problems and are designed for use in a traditional calculus course.’
    • ‘It is within such a classical critical tradition of a crisis of ideology that the declining confrontations of labor and capital has brought more radical consequences.’
    • ‘The beauty center also provides foot massage and traditional Thai massage in a classical style of atmosphere.’
    • ‘In English, it has become synonymous with ballet danced in the grand classical style (think rows of identical ballerinas in white tutus).’
    • ‘But they were working within a classical philosophical tradition, reshaping it and making it modern.’
    • ‘His work - in the traditional, classical style of the sonata form - is so in structure, but not overtly so in its music.’
    • ‘In 2005 an average of three concerts per month were held in the cathedral providing mainly classical and traditional Irish music.’
    • ‘A design vocabulary for high buildings was well established within the classical tradition.’
    traditional, long-established
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    1. 2.1 Relating to the first significant period of an area of study.
      ‘classical mechanics’
      • ‘Did you feel like you were coming in at the last moment of the classical Hollywood period?’
      • ‘The classical period had matured and was ripe for the transition to the molecular era.’
      • ‘This is related to the fact that the period of classical cinema has ended.’
      • ‘As was common throughout the classical period of Indian mathematics, members of the family acted as teachers to other family members.’
      • ‘Within the field of religion or area studies, there is a difference between emphases in the classical or modern period.’
    2. 2.2Physics Relating to or based upon concepts and theories which preceded the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics; Newtonian.
      ‘classical physics’
      • ‘In classical relativity theory, space-time is a four-dimensional construction wherein the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time are welded together.’
      • ‘Experimental data was accumulating throughout Europe that could not be reconciled with the established formulae of Newtonian classical physics.’
      • ‘Newton's Law of Gravitation was the beginning of classical field theory.’
      • ‘Like all his contemporaries, Hawking was brought up, as a scientist, on the classical ideas of Newton and on relativity theory and quantum physics in their original forms.’
      • ‘The second term you may recognize to be the kinetic energy of classical Newtonian physics.’


See classic


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘outstanding of its kind’): from Latin classicus ‘belonging to a class’ (see classic) + -al.