Definition of classical in English:



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

    ‘classical mythology’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These common readings reveal that a large population of Florence would have been able to understand the Christian, classical, and literary themes in art.’
    • ‘Some chiefs probably visited Rome itself and thus had contact with classical culture.’
    • ‘It acted as a conduit for the recovery of much of the learning of classical culture.’
    • ‘It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His classicism is evident not only in his frequent quotations from classical literature, but often in his style.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As a young man, Erasmus believed that northern Europeans knew nothing of classical antiquity - his career sought to remedy this barbarism.’
    • ‘However, the corrosive effect of such exposure to classical culture must not be exaggerated.’
    • ‘Many cultures in the ancient and classical world built canals to extend the irrigation provided by rivers.’
    • ‘However, there were other Church Fathers who defended the value of studying classical literature and philosophy.’
    • ‘But the balance in the secondary schools of Europe was overwhelmingly in favour of classical culture.’
    • ‘Diphtheria has probably existed since classical antiquity, but it was not identified as a specific disease until 1819.’
    • ‘The monks also kept alive classical culture and introduced the techniques of efficient and profitable land management.’
    • ‘Throughout classical literature, the virtues of peace were extolled, and the evils of war denounced.’
    • ‘Feasting can be either an inclusive or an exclusive activity, as we know from many sources from classical antiquity and modern ethnography.’
    • ‘Moreover, carrying on with the classical literary order was a means of mitigating the downturn in Roman affairs since the days of the ancients.’
    • ‘He used ancient, classical, and contemporary collections of travel narratives, which were closest in scholarly method to English antiquarianism.’
    • ‘He teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, along with courses in classical mythology and Greek literature and culture.’
    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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When the military returned to power in 1976, it promoted classical art forms.’
      • ‘He teaches and writes regularly on classical architecture and design.’
      • ‘His asymmetries make the kind of gratifying sense that symmetry makes in classical art.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The irony is that the official programme is not particularly elitist, either in terms of classical art forms or cutting-edge postmodernism.’
      • ‘I'd been traveling across Greece and Turkey with a small group of college students, studying Byzantine and classical art and architecture.’
      • ‘Her profile recalls Greek classical sculpture as well as fashion mannequins of the period.’
      • ‘The building has a significant presence at the entrance to the campus and evokes the sense of order and balance characteristic of classical architecture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘An educational program was set up, and promising youth were sent on government-sponsored tours of Europe to learn about classical art and architecture.’
      • ‘At the assembly, as also in other events, those in senior classes can perform only classical art forms and dramas.’
      • ‘An inclination toward classical art and, most likely, the residual Protestantism of her Canadian-Scottish heritage were also evident.’
      • ‘No better model will be found to illustrate the principles of classical interior architecture.’
      • ‘18th century artists and theorists were in a position to take a new look at classical art.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘His work - in the traditional, classical style of the sonata form - is so in structure, but not overtly so in its music.’
    • ‘The play is a unique piece bringing together elements of Australian mythology and culture - a far cry from the traditional, classical European-based ballets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In English, it has become synonymous with ballet danced in the grand classical style (think rows of identical ballerinas in white tutus).’
    • ‘The traditional repertoire of most classical dance styles is strongly based on the stories and characteristics surrounding divinity in Hinduism.’
    • ‘In 2005 an average of three concerts per month were held in the cathedral providing mainly classical and traditional Irish music.’
    • ‘This piece is also the furthest from the traditional style of classical ballet and offers a good reflection of the state of contemporary ballet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A design vocabulary for high buildings was well established within the classical tradition.’
    • ‘But they were working within a classical philosophical tradition, reshaping it and making it modern.’
    • ‘The traditional classical concert establishes a whole set of formal relationships before even a note has sounded.’
    • ‘The show is a massive concert featuring a variety of different dance styles including tap, classical ballet, modern jazz and national character.’
    • ‘They fall squarely within the tradition of classical word problems and are designed for use in a traditional calculus course.’
    • ‘The beauty center also provides foot massage and traditional Thai massage in a classical style of atmosphere.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This approach captures the essence of the classical liberal tradition concerning the rule of law and individualism, while avoiding some of its own ambiguities.’
    • ‘These are imaginary landscapes, but within the rich classical Western landscape tradition.’
    traditional, long-established
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    1. 2.1 Relating to the first significant period of an area of study.
      ‘classical mechanics’
      • ‘As was common throughout the classical period of Indian mathematics, members of the family acted as teachers to other family members.’
      • ‘The classical period had matured and was ripe for the transition to the molecular era.’
      • ‘Did you feel like you were coming in at the last moment of the classical Hollywood period?’
      • ‘Within the field of religion or area studies, there is a difference between emphases in the classical or modern period.’
      • ‘This is related to the fact that the period of classical cinema has ended.’
    2. 2.2Physics Relating to or based upon concepts and theories which preceded the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics; Newtonian.
      ‘classical physics’
      • ‘The second term you may recognize to be the kinetic energy of classical Newtonian physics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Newton's Law of Gravitation was the beginning of classical field theory.’
      • ‘Experimental data was accumulating throughout Europe that could not be reconciled with the established formulae of 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.’


See classic


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