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In the town I live in, there have been a number of competitive events called "classics" (e.g. "Bicycle Classic," "Golf Classic").

I assume this term is used because the event is a long-standing, annual tradition. Is that correct? Are there any guidelines as to what should and shouldn't be called a classic?

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    There is exactly one guideline for names: it's a name, so you can call it whatever you want. A Microsoft needs to be neither micro nor soft, a Federal Reserve does not need to be federal or a reserve, and a Bicycle Classic could be a pie-eating contest for all we know. – RegDwigнt Apr 21 '15 at 15:01
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    True that, @RegDwigнt, but this is not a question about a single name. There are a myriad of events that share "Classic" in their title, I, for one, would be very interested to see where this leads. – Kristina Lopez Apr 21 '15 at 15:39
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A classic is an outstanding example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. … Classic is used to describe many major, long-standing sporting events.

(src: WP, see link below).

See also:

  • The section on Sport in the Wikipedia article 'Classic:'

Many sporting events take the name classic …

  • AHD cited in TFD
  1. A traditional event, especially a major sporting event that is held annually: a golf classic.
2

The noun classic means something that's very high quality, particularly if it has lasting value. (vocabulary.com)

  • The pristine Model T Ford that you keep in your garage is a classic

Classical is the customary word when reference is made to the arts and literature of ancient Greece and Rome (a classical scholar, classical Latin, classical metres).

  • The works studied, and also the subject itself and the study ofthe subject, are called (the) Classics. (Fowler's Modern English usage)

Classical is also applied to serious or conventional music (i.e. that of Beethoven, Mozart, etc.) as distinct from light or popular music; and in physics to the concepts which preceded relativity and quantum theory. (Fowler's....)

classic (adj.) 1610s, "of the highest class; approved as a model," Originally in English, "of the first class;" meaning "belonging to standard authors of Greek and Roman antiquity" is attested from 1620s. (etymology.com)

  • Classic means 'of acknowledged excellence' (the classic textbook on the subject), or 'remarkably typical' (a classic case of cerebral palsy)

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