Meaning of “classic” in the English Dictionary

"classic" in British English

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uk /ˈklæs.ɪk/ us /ˈklæs.ɪk/

classic adjective (HIGH QUALITY)

B2 having a high quality or standard against which other things are judged:

Fielding's classic novel "Tom Jones"
Another classic goal there from Corley!

More examples

  • Cullinan's tasty offering adds a personal touch to classic recipe.
  • The advertising industry's use of classic songs is vandalism of popular culture, he said.
  • I've always enjoyed reading classic novels.

classic adjective (TYPICAL)

having all the characteristics or qualities that you expect:

He's a classic example of a kid who's clever but lazy.
He had all the classic symptoms of the disease.

informal disapproving bad or unpleasant, but not very surprising or unexpected:

It's classic - you arrive at the station on time and find that the train's left early.

More examples

  • He's got all the classic symptoms of a cold - the coughs and sneezes and the sore throat.
  • It's a classic case of the bored-housewife syndrome - she's got nothing to do all day except drink and go shopping.
  • Officials admit that the re-planting of the hillsides only started five years ago and seems to be a classic case of too little too late.
  • I suffer from the classic working mother's guilt trip.
  • Withdrawal is a classic symptom of depression.


uk /ˈklæs.ɪk/ us /ˈklæs.ɪk/

classic noun (HIGH QUALITY)

B2 [ C ] a piece of writing, a musical recording, or a film that is well known and of a high standard and lasting value:

Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is a classic of English literature.
Many of the Rolling Stones' records have become rock classics.
the classics [ plural ]

the most famous works of literature:

I spent my childhood reading the classics.

More examples

  • Larkin's poems have become classics, taught in schools.
  • His musical, based on a novel by Zola, became a classic.
  • 'Anna Karenina' is a classic of Russian literature.

(Definition of “classic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"classic" in American English

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us /ˈklæs·ɪk/

classic adjective (STANDARD)

being of a high standard against which others of the same type are judged:

classic literature
John Steinbeck's classic American novel, “The Grapes of Wrath”

classic adjective (TRADITIONAL)

traditional in design or style:

She wore a classic blue suit and a straw hat.

classic adjective (TYPICAL)

having all the characteristics or qualities that are typical of something:

The building is a classic example of poor design.

classicnoun [ C ]

us /ˈklæs·ɪk/

classic noun [ C ] (STANDARD)

a well-known piece of writing, musical recording, or film which is of high quality and lasting value:

Chaplin’s films are regarded as American classics.

(Definition of “classic” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)