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classic, classical

As adjectives, these words are partly interchangeable.

Nevertheless, classic should be used when the meaning is “a famous or supreme example of its type”:

  • It was a classic case of mistaken identity.

Classical is preferred in reference to ancient Greek and Roman culture or to any music composed in a traditional, serious style:

  • The Colosseum is an excellent example of classical Roman architecture.
  • He was an outstanding performer of classical Hindu music.