practical (adj.)

early 15c., practicale "of or pertaining to matters of action, practice, or use; 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 (Attic prattein) "to do, act, effect, accomplish; come to an end, succeed," literally "to pass through, travel," from PIE *per(h)- "go through, cross," an enlargement of the root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over."

Of persons, in reference to skills or occupations, "whose knowledge is derived from practice rather than theory," 1660s. The noun meaning "examination or lesson devoted to practice in a subject" is by 1934. Practical joke "trick played on someone for the sake of annoying him and raising a laugh at his expense" is from 1771 on the notion of "a jest carried into action" (earlier handicraft joke, 1741).

updated on September 30, 2020

Definitions of practical from WordNet

practical (adj.)
being actually such in almost every respect;
a practical failure
Synonyms: virtual
practical (adj.)
concerned with actual use or practice;
the idea had no practical application
woodworking is a practical art
he is a very practical person
a practical knowledge of Japanese
practical (adj.)
guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory;
completely practical in his approach to business
Synonyms: hardheaded / hard-nosed / pragmatic
practical (adj.)
having or put to a practical purpose or use;
practical mathematics
practical applications of calculus
From, not affiliated with etymonline.