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  1. of or relating to practice or action: practical mathematics.
  2. consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action: a practical application of a rule.
  3. of, relating to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work: a habitual dreamer, who can't be bothered with practical affairs.
  4. adapted or designed for actual use; useful: practical instructions.
  5. engaged or experienced in actual practice or work: a practical politician credited with much legislation.
  6. inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities: looking for a practical person to fill this position.
  7. mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.
  8. matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  9. being such in practice or effect; virtual: Her promotion to manager is a practical certainty.
  10. Theater. practicable(def 3).

Origin of practical

1375–1425; late Middle English. See practic, -al1
Related formsprac·ti·cal·i·ty, prac·ti·cal·ness, nounnon·prac·ti·cal, adjectivenon·prac·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·prac·ti·cal·ness, nounnon·prac·ti·cal·i·ty, nounpre·prac·ti·cal, adjectivequa·si-prac·ti·cal, adjectivequa·si-prac·ti·cal·ly, adverbsem·i·prac·ti·cal, adjectiveul·tra·prac·ti·cal, adjective
Can be confusedpossible practicable practical (see synonym study at possible)

Synonyms for practical

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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.

Antonyms for practical Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for practical

Contemporary Examples of practical

Historical Examples of practical

British Dictionary definitions for practical


  1. of, involving, or concerned with experience or actual use; not theoretical
  2. of or concerned with ordinary affairs, work, etc
  3. adapted or adaptable for use
  4. of, involving, or trained by practice
  5. being such for all useful or general purposes; virtual
  1. an examination in the practical skills of a subjecta science practical
Derived Formspracticality or practicalness, noun

Word Origin for practical

C17: from earlier practic, from French pratique, via Late Latin from Greek praktikos, from prassein to experience, negotiate, perform


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
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 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

Idioms and Phrases with practical


see to all intents and (for all practical) purposes.

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