adjective Also classical (for defs 1–5, 8, 10).


Origin of classic

1605–15; (< French classique) < Latin classicus belonging to a class, belonging to the first or highest class, equivalent to class(is) class + -icus -ic
Related formsnon·clas·sic, adjectivepre·clas·sic, adjectivequa·si-clas·sic, adjective
Can be confusedclassic classical Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for classics

prototype, paradigm, exemplar, standard

Examples from the Web for classics

Contemporary Examples of classics

Historical Examples of classics

British Dictionary definitions for classics


pl n

the classics a body of literature regarded as great or lasting, esp that of ancient Greece or Rome
the classics the ancient Greek and Latin languages
(functioning as singular) ancient Greek and Roman culture considered as a subject for academic study



of the highest class, esp in art or literature
serving as a standard or model of its kind; definitive
adhering to an established set of rules or principles in the arts or sciencesa classic proof
characterized by simplicity, balance, regularity, and purity of form; classical
of lasting interest or significance
continuously in fashion because of its simple and basic stylea classic day dress


an author, artist, or work of art of the highest excellence
a creation or work considered as definitive
horse racing
  1. any of the five principal races for three-year-old horses in Britain, namely the One Thousand Guineas, Two Thousand Guineas, Derby, Oaks, and Saint Leger
  2. a race equivalent to any of these in other countries
See also classics

Word Origin for classic

C17: from Latin classicus of the first rank, from classis division, rank, class
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

Word Origin and History for classics

"Greek and Roman writers and works," 1711, from classic (adj.).



1610s, "of the highest class; approved as a model," from French classique (17c.), from Latin classicus "relating to the (highest) classes of the Roman people," hence, "superior," from classis (see class). Originally in English, "of the first class;" meaning "belonging to standard authors of Greek and Roman antiquity" is attested from 1620s.



"a Greek or Roman writer or work," 1711, from classic (adj.). So, by mid-19c., any work in any context held to have a similar quality or relationship. In classical Latin noun use of classicus meant "a Marine" (miles classicus) from the "military division" sense of classis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

classics in Culture


A descriptive term for a period in Western music, encompassing roughly the last half of the eighteenth century, that includes the works of Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the early works of Ludwig van Beethoven, among other composers.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.