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[fiz-i-kuh l] /ˈfɪz ɪ kəl/
of or relating to the body:
physical exercise.
of or relating to that which is material:
the physical universe; the physical sciences.
noting or pertaining to the properties of matter and energy other than those peculiar to living matter.
pertaining to the physical sciences, especially physics.
carnal; sexual:
a physical attraction.
tending to touch, hug, pat, etc.; physically demonstrative:
a physical person.
requiring, characterized by, or liking rough physical contact or strenuous physical activity:
Football is a physical sport.
Origin of physical
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin physicālis concerning medicine. See physic, -al1
Related forms
physically, adverb
physicalness, noun
antiphysical, adjective
antiphysically, adverb
antiphysicalness, noun
nonphysical, adjective
nonphysically, adverb
quasi-physical, adjective
quasi-physically, adverb
transphysical, adjective
transphysically, adverb
unphysical, adjective
unphysically, adverb
1. somatic; fleshly. Physical, bodily, corporeal, corporal agree in pertaining to the body. Physical indicates connected with, pertaining to, the animal or human body as a material organism: physical strength, exercise. Bodily means belonging to, concerned with, the human body as distinct from the mind or spirit: bodily pain or suffering. Corporeal, a more poetic and philosophical word than bodily, refers especially to the mortal substance of which the human body is composed as opposed to spirit: this corporeal habitation. Corporal is now usually reserved for reference to whippings and other punishments inflicted on the human body. 2. tangible, palpable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for physical
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Back in the physical reality, of course, no one else can hear her voice.

    The Gallery Roger Phillips Graham
  • In the physical realm, separate the body from God, and it dies.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Alexander Maclaren
  • Her physical purity was desecrated by—she wouldn't think of it.

    In the Wilderness Robert Hichens
  • That is a physical power which I have without the aid of the law.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • They have traced the physical results of vice, and have foreshadowed its course.

    The History of Prostitution William W. Sanger
British Dictionary definitions for physical


of or relating to the body, as distinguished from the mind or spirit
of, relating to, or resembling material things or nature: the physical universe
involving or requiring bodily contact: rugby is a physical sport
of or concerned with matter and energy
of or relating to physics
perceptible to the senses; apparent: a physical manifestation
See also physicals
Derived Forms
physically, adverb
physicalness, 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 physical

early 15c., "of or pertaining to material nature" (in medicine, opposed to surgical), from Medieval Latin physicalis "of nature, natural," from Latin physica "study of nature" (see physic). Meaning "pertaining to matter" is from 1590s; meaning "having to do with the body, corporeal" is attested from 1780. Meaning "characterized by bodily attributes or activities" is attested from 1970. Physical education first recorded 1838; abbreviated form phys ed is from 1955. Physical therapy is from 1922. Related: Physically.


"a physical examination," by 1934, from physical (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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physical in Medicine

physical phys·i·cal (fĭz'ĭ-kəl)
Abbr. phys.

  1. Of or relating to the body as distinguished from the mind or spirit.

  2. Involving or characterized by vigorous bodily activity.

  3. Of or relating to material things.

  4. Of or relating to matter and energy or the sciences dealing with them, especially physics.

A physical examination.
phys'i·cal'i·ty (-kāl'ĭ-tē) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for physical



Using the body, esp roughly or intimately: Vanderbilt is a lot better than last year and more physical (1970+)

Related Terms

get physical

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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physical in Technology

The opposite of logical in its jargon sense. Compare real, virtual, and transparent.
It is said that what you can touch and see is real; what you can see but not touch is virtual; what you can touch but not see is transparent; and what you can neither touch nor see is probably imaginary.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with physical


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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