Historical and historic do mean different things and, it turns out, there have been many recent events that can be categorized under each term. A few centuries ago, those two words were considered synonyms; they could be used interchangeably. Both words are adjectives and both are used to describe something that has happened in the past. The difference comes in to play when deciding the significance of the noun that been described.
The word "historic" refers to any event, object, or place that is considered an important part of history. It is the more selective of the two words.
1. Texts - The Declaration of Independence and The Bible are both historic texts, meaning they are both indisputably important parts of history. But a personal journal of a soldier written during World War 1 would be considered historical; part of history but not directly influencing the actual course of events.
2. Objects - These are things that are significant to history. The Rosetta Stone is historic but an antique table made during the French Revolution is historical.
3. Days - Events that shaped or molded history in some way are considered historic; Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, the end of World War II, the moon landing, etc. A historical day, on the other hand, is any other day that happened in the past.
4. Maps - A historical map is any map that was produced in the past and "likely conveys the history of the place it depicts, but the map itself is not historically significant as an object." A historic map, however, is important "because the map itself has had a prominent place in history, perhaps to plan an important battle or document the establishment of a city."
Mixing up these two words is a common grammatical error, if you want to remember how to use the correct one, simply remember the words of writer William Safire, "“Any past event is historical, but only the most memorable ones are historic.” Here are a couple of additional tips that can help.
1. Historical has more letters in it than does historic. The definition of the word historical is longer, too. It encompasses more events, people, and objects. Historic is a shorter word and refers to fewer events, people, and objects.
2. Historic ends with the letter "C" which can stand for critical; historic objects or events that are critical components of history.
3. Historical ends with the letter "L" which you can say stands for "long ago" Historical objects or events can refer to anything that happened long ago but is not considered to be historically significant.
Got all that?
I hope you found this information useful. Most of us don't use these words very often in our own daily speech and writing. But knowing the difference between then can be helping in understanding the context of what you read or see, like when you visit a museum or stop to read a roadside historical marker.
I invite you back tomorrow for a special blog honoring farmers on National Farms Day. Until then, I wish you