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[prak-ti-kuh l] /ˈpræk tɪ kəl/
of or relating to practice or action:
practical mathematics.
consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action:
a practical application of a rule.
of, relating to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work:
a habitual dreamer, who can't be bothered with practical affairs.
adapted or designed for actual use; useful:
practical instructions.
engaged or experienced in actual practice or work:
a practical politician credited with much legislation.
inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities:
looking for a practical person to fill this position.
mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.
matter-of-fact; prosaic.
being such in practice or effect; virtual:
Her promotion to manager is a practical certainty.
Theater. practicable (def 3).
Origin of practical
1375-1425; late Middle English. See practic, -al1
Related forms
practicality, practicalness, noun
nonpractical, adjective
nonpractically, adverb
nonpracticalness, noun
nonpracticality, noun
prepractical, adjective
quasi-practical, adjective
quasi-practically, adverb
semipractical, adjective
ultrapractical, adjective
Can be confused
possible, practicable, practical (see synonym study at possible)
1. pragmatic.
7. ill-advised, unwise, foolish.
Synonym Study
7. Practical, judicious, sensible refer to good judgment in action, conduct, and the handling of everyday matters. Practical suggests the ability to adopt means to an end or to turn what is at hand to account: to adopt practical measures for settling problems. Judicious implies the possession and use of discreet judgment, discrimination, and balance: a judicious use of one's time. Sensible implies the possession and use of sound reason and shrewd common sense: a sensible suggestion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for practical
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a practical arrangement, but no one praised Eleanore for it.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
  • "That's one practical result of an hour's credit in gym-work," she laughed.

    Stanford Stories Charles K. Field
  • practical 199 considerations do not count with him when they antagonise his ideals.

    Paris and the Social Revolution Alvan Francis Sanborn
  • The former plan is a singularly appealing, as well as practical, one.

    Making A Rock Garden Henry Sherman Adams
  • A handy volume which every practical young engineer should possess.

    Getting Gold J. C. F. Johnson
British Dictionary definitions for practical


of, involving, or concerned with experience or actual use; not theoretical
of or concerned with ordinary affairs, work, etc
adapted or adaptable for use
of, involving, or trained by practice
being such for all useful or general purposes; virtual
an examination in the practical skills of a subject: a science practical
Derived Forms
practicality, practicalness, noun
Usage note
A distinction is usually made between practical and practicable. Practical refers to a person, idea, project, etc, as being more concerned with or relevant to practice than theory: he is a very practical person; the idea had no practical application. Practicable refers to a project or idea as being capable of being done or put into effect: the plan was expensive, yet practicable
Word Origin
C17: from earlier practic, from French pratique, via Late Latin from Greek praktikos, from prassein to experience, negotiate, perform
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 practical

early 15c., practicale "of or pertaining to matters of practice; applied," with -al (1) + earlier practic (adj.) "dealing with practical matters, applied, not merely theoretical" (early 15c.), or practic (n.) "method, practice, use" (late 14c.). In some cases directly from Old French practique (adj.) "fit for action," earlier pratique (13c.) and Medieval Latin practicalis, from Late Latin practicus "practical, active," from Greek praktikos "fit for action, fit for business; business-like, practical; active, effective, vigorous," from praktos "done; to be done," verbal adjective of prassein, prattein "to do, act, effect, accomplish."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with practical
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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