The mayor travelled to the historic museum. He specifically chose this museum to visit because it is historically significant and happens to be built on the site of the country’s first military installation. The intent behind his gesture was to support the arts industry of the country and empower aspiring artists to pursue their passions. The mayor further enjoyed watching the historical paintings displayed at the main gallery.

The terms ‘historic’ and ‘historical’ are both adjectives and have been derived from a single Greek word ‘historia’. Due to lack of clarity and understanding of the two adjectives, people often get confused with their correct use while writing and conversating with each other. The main dilemma that they face is whether these words are alternate spellings of the same word or if they have distinct meanings as well.

At least, one point is clear; both terms are used to describe events or things belonging to past. However, the main difference between historic and historical is that anything significant or famous in history is called historic while anything occurred in the past with no significance in history is termed as historical. For instance, a novel can be historic or historical. However, a different meaning is intended in each sentence. A historic novel is an extraordinary novel that has various implications but a historical novel is based on previous historical events and has nothing special about it.

To better understand the subject matter, another example is reiterated: 14th August 1947 is a historic day for all Pakistanis because it is their independence day. 20th August 1947 is a historical day because it is just a random day associated with the past and has no significance. Let us further clarify these differences.

Historic vs historical – definitions, uses and examples

Definition of historic

Historic is an adjective. Anything historic is big and momentous that will be significant for seemingly forever. For example, the event of man travelling to the moon is an example of a historic moment. More examples are provided through the sentences given below:

Example sentences of historic

  • In the 2018 elections, the victory of Imran khan was a historic event.

This statement means that in 2018, the victory of Imran Khan was historic and marked great significance for Pakistan because a new political party had gained recognition and emerged victorious.

  • The King’s coronation is a historic event for the people.

This sentence indicates that the King’s coronation is momentous and is celebrated by the people of his dynasty. People rejoice when they gain a ruler because they gain hope that their ruler would improve their living conditions.

  • He came back securely from his historic trip into space.

Based on this sentence, a man safely returned from space and marked a moment of pride for his country and his company as well. His great achievement would be commemorated for a longtime and is therefore termed as historic.

Definition of historical

Historical is also an adjective that refers to something that occurred at an earlier period of time (i.e., in the past.) For example, historical event, historical site and historical records etc.

Example sentences of historical

  • Mohenjo-Daro is a historical place in the Sindh province of Pakistan.

Mohenjo-Daro is called historical in this sentence because it is a preserved ancient site which now acts a tourist attraction. It was a major fragment of the Indus Valley Civilization and occurred at the same time as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The site has uniquely designed small brick rural ancient homes, the kind of homes that do not occur today and are found nowhere else in the world. Due to its cultural importance it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year of 1980.

  • The teacher asked the students to determine the historical events that led to World War I.

A teacher assigned her students with the task to write down the past (historical) events that caused World War I. Even though World War I itself is historic, the causes of it are just historical that relate to the past.

  • ‘When I was in China, I explored many historical sites and attractions like Terracotta Warriors near Xi’an and Mountain Hua Shan near Huayin,’ the traveler narrated with enthusiasm.

This sentence tells us that when a traveler visited China, he explored many ancient sites such as Terracotta Warriors located near Xi’an City and, Hua Shan Mountain near Huayin City etc. These sites are cultural treasures of the past.


Despite the fact that it may appear difficult to separate these terms at first, one can easily differentiate these terms after going through the various sentence examples provided above. Let’s revise the main difference. Both the words relate to the past and most sentences should be grammatically correct if either of them is used. However, the sense in which the two words are used differs significantly and needs to be learned. The main focus of the word ‘historical’ is just to describe that the event or thing being discussed belongs to a past period while the word ‘historic’ not only tells us that the event or thing belongs to past but also creates a sense of importance for the event or thing being talked about. To conclude, we can say that a historic event or thing is a historical event or thing which bears special importance or significance due to some certain reason like people’s emotional attachment etc. Another surprising fact is that, even though both words begin with an audible consonant, it is accurate to use ‘an’ before each term (although both ‘a’ and ‘an’ can be used before each term.)