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[myoo-zi-kuh l] /ˈmyu zɪ kəl/
of, relating to, or producing music:
a musical instrument.
of the nature of or resembling music; melodious; harmonious.
fond of or skilled in music.
set to or accompanied by music:
a musical entertainment.
Also called musical comedy. a play or motion picture in which the story line is interspersed with or developed by songs, dances, and the like.
Origin of musical
late Middle English
First recorded in 1375-1425; late Middle English word from Medieval Latin word mūsicālis. See music, -al1
Related forms
musically, adverb
musicality, musicalness, noun
antimusical, adjective
antimusically, adverb
antimusicalness, noun
nonmusical, adjective
nonmusically, adverb
nonmusicalness, noun
premusical, adjective
premusically, adverb
quasi-musical, adjective
quasi-musically, adverb
unmusicality, noun
Can be confused
musical, musicale.
1. tuneful, dulcet, sweet, lyric. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for musical
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To confess the strange truth, he never told me you were musical.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • When Vavasor was gone she turned with greater diligence to her musical studies.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Far away through the forest might be heard its musical clangor and swell.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • My voice was a marvel even to myself, so rich and full and musical!

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • It was Mattheson, by his own account, who introduced Handel to the musical life of Hamburg.

    Handel Edward J. Dent
British Dictionary definitions for musical


of, relating to, or used in music: a musical instrument
harmonious; melodious: musical laughter
talented in or fond of music
involving or set to music: a musical evening
short for musical comedy
Derived Forms
musically, adverb
musicalness, musicality, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for musical

early 15c., "pertaining to music; tuneful, harmonious; adept at making music," from Middle French musical (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin musicalis, from Latin musica (see music). Musical box is from 1829. Children's game musical chairs is attested from 1877, hence use of musical as a modifier meaning "changing rapidly from one to another possessor" (1924). Related: Musically.


"theatrical piece in which music figures prominently," 1937, from musical (adj.) in musical play. Earlier as a noun it meant "musical instrument" (c.1500), "musical performance" (1570s); "musical party" (1823, a sense now in musicale).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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musical in Culture

musical definition

A play or film that contains musical numbers. Musicals can be comedic (see musical comedy) or serious in tone, such as Porgy and Bess.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for musical



Changing rapidly from one to another possessor: At night in Port-au-Prince a massive game of musical houses is going on/ The revolving cast of Love Letters has become something of a game of musical celebrities/ Neither partner will relinquish the coop; this is black comedy, a wickedly funny tale of musical apartments and malfunctioning appliances

[1924+; the date refers to the first occurrence of musical chairs, the game in which players circle a set of chairs and sit in any one available when the music stops]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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