of, relating to, or characteristic of Greek and Roman antiquity:
classical literature; classical languages.
conforming to ancient Greek and Roman models in literature or art, or to later systems modeled upon them.
marked by classicism:
classical simplicity.

of, relating to, or constituting the formally and artistically more sophisticated and enduring types of music, as distinguished from popular and folk music and jazz. Classical music includes symphonies, operas, sonatas, song cycles, and lieder.
of, pertaining to, characterized by, or adhering to the well-ordered, chiefly homophonic musical style of the latter half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries:
Haydn and Mozart are classical composers.


noting or pertaining to the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, especially the religious and public architecture, characterized by the employment of orders.
Compare (def 27b).
noting or pertaining to any of several styles of architecture closely imitating the architecture of ancient Greece or Rome; neoclassic.
noting or pertaining to architectural details or motifs adapted from ancient Greek or Roman models.
(of an architectural design) simple, reposeful, well-proportioned, or symmetrical in a manner suggesting the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.

(often initial capital letter) pertaining to or designating the style of fine arts, especially painting and sculpture, developed in Greece during the 5th and 4th centuries b.c., chiefly characterized by balanced composition, the separation of figures from an architectural background, and the naturalistic rendering of anatomical details, spatial movement, and distribution of weight in a figure.
Compare (def 4), (def 5).
of or relating to a style of literature and art characterized by conformity to established treatments, taste, or critical standards, and by attention to form with the general effect of regularity, simplicity, balance, proportion, and controlled emotion (contrasted with ).
pertaining to or versed in the ancient classics:
a classical scholar.
relating to or teaching academic branches of knowledge, as the humanities, general sciences, etc., as distinguished from technical subjects.
(of a given field of knowledge) accepted as standard and authoritative, as distinguished from novel or experimental:
classical physics.
(defs 1–5, 8, 10).
Ecclesiastical. pertaining to a classis.
classical music:
a jazz pianist who studied classical for years.
Contemporary Examples

They were careful not to change the words, which appear as subtitles in classical Hebrew script.
Balad’s Parody ‘Hatikvah’ Ad Don Futterman January 20, 2013

For Kirke it was being paid to pretend to play the oboe that heightened her affair with classical music.
‘Mozart in the Jungle’: Inside Amazon’s Brave New World of Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music Kevin Fallon December 22, 2014

In 2007, she became the first classical musician to be named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
2012 Summit: Who’s On Stage March 5, 2012

“If I had my life to do over again,” he says, he would be a classical musician.
Alec Baldwin’s Twitter Troubles Sandra McElwaine April 16, 2012

In the carving, the temple is depicted with a classical pediment front and a colonnade of columns supporting the structure.
Iraq’s Long-Lost Mythical Temple Has Been Found…and Is In Danger of Disappearing Again Nina Strochlic July 23, 2014

Historical Examples

Let us enquire by what singular series of accidents, such a man crawled to the summit of classical reputation?
Deformities of Samuel Johnson, Selected from his Works Anonymous

He overthrew the classical ideal of art, and enthroned the ego in its room.
A History of French Literature Edward Dowden

The author shows that he knew as minutely as extensively the whole round of classical literature accessible to his times.
A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2) Thomas M. Lindsay

So much for what may be called the classical and reference department of the library.
Chaldea Znade A. Ragozin

He soon became the most popular leading man in Paris, not only in the classical rpertoire, but in contemporary novelties.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 10, Slice 2 Various

of, relating to, or characteristic of the ancient Greeks and Romans or their civilization, esp in the period of their ascendancy
designating, following, or influenced by the art or culture of ancient Greece or Rome: classical architecture

of, relating to, or denoting any music or its period of composition marked by stability of form, intellectualism, and restraint Compare romantic (sense 5)
accepted as a standard: the classical suite
denoting serious art music in general Compare pop1 (sense 2)

(music) of or relating to a style of music composed, esp at Vienna, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This period is marked by the establishment, esp by Haydn and Mozart, of sonata form
denoting or relating to a style in any of the arts characterized by emotional restraint and conservatism: a classical style of painting See classicism (sense 1)
well versed in the art and literature of ancient Greece and Rome
(of an education) based on the humanities and the study of Latin and Greek

not involving the quantum theory or the theory of relativity: classical mechanics
obeying the laws of Newtonian mechanics or 19th-century physics: a classical gas

another word for classic (sense 2), classic (sense 4)
(of a logical or mathematical system) according with the law of excluded middle, so that every statement is known to be either true or false even if it is not known which

1590s, “of the highest rank” (originally in literature), from classic + -al (1). Classical music (1836) was defined originally against romantic music.

[I]n general, as now used, the term classical includes the composers active in instrumental music from somewhere about 1700 to say 1830. Hence the list includes among the great names those of Bach, his sons, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Clementi, Dussek, Pleyel, Cramer, etc. The next step beyond the term classical is “modern romantic,” the composers of which school may be taken to include all the writers for pianoforte from about 1829 (when Mendelssohn published the first “Songs without Words”) down to the present. The term romantic in this sense means strongly marked, extraordinary, intending to tell stories and the like. [“Music, Its Ideals and Methods,” W.S.B. Mathews, 1897]

But already by 1880s it was acknowledged the term had a double sense: Music that had withstood the test of time, as well as music of a style contrasted to “romantic.” Later (early 20c.) it was contrasted to jazz (in this sense more often with reference to the orchestras than to the music itself). Still later in contrast to popular music generally (mid-20c.).

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