After checking many Web sites, I found much inconsistency in whether "historic records" or "historical records" is used.

  • Which of these terms simply means "a document, created at any time, which describes the past"?
  • Which of these terms means "a document of much significance, itself considered an important part of history"?
  • Which of the terms means "a document of much significance in itself, which also contains descriptions of prior events"?

Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical"? describes the meaning of the "-ical" ending found in "historical", but I could not see how to determine its usage in this confusing context.

1 Answer 1


For many purposes, historic/historical are interchangeable, but as a general rule...

historical records usually means accounts written around the time of the events they describe.

Probably most instances of historic records (which is maybe 40 times less common) have exactly the same meaning. But here are a few hundred instances of his historic record, which in nearly every case have nothing to do with either accords or history (they're remarkable achievements). From that, one could feasibly make out a case for saying historic records might sometimes be used to distinguish important accounts from historical ones, but I couldn't endorse such a usage.

Since even the above distinction isn't really supported by English, it's no surprise I don't think any inflected version of the word history would cover OP's third sense of "both of the above".

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