According to the big Oxford and the online dictionary, the following pairs are concurrent: heroic and heroical; empiric and empirical

Aren't the second forms morphologically redundant? Heroic already is an adjective, so why would it need the suffix -al to form the same adjective?

  • There are lots of possible pairs like this: semantic/semantical, dynamic/dynamical, electric/electrical. Sometimes only one is used sometimes the other, sometimes both. Redundant or not, that's just the way it is.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 14:03
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    I remember deciding when I was in high school or thereabouts and first came across the word poetical, that it must be the poser version of poetic. Later I decided it was mostly just old-fashioned, but I still can't help getting a strong sense of "trying to be poetic, but nooot quiiite getting there" from the word. I get the same feeling from heroical vis-à-vis heroic.
    – 1006a
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 14:16
  • I agree with @1006a -- I think the "-al" suffix makes the terms slightly weaker, or more often describe something less directly. It could just be that I perceive it that way, but other words seem to fit that pattern: "a historic person" / "a historical perspective." "Optic nerve" / "Optical care." "An electric charge" / "An electrical engineer." "A geometric shape" / "A geometrical explanation"... etc. Commented May 17, 2017 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


They're not redundant; just a matter of choice…

I’ve read endless volumes of myths and legends of Egypt, Greece and Rome, Uruk, various parts of Africa and US America, England, Scotland and Ireland and much of Europe and in all my 62 years, this is the first time I’ve come across the word heroical

Oddly enough, I’ve also never noticed empiric

Thus, I’m very clearly with mitch and choster and 1006a and RaceYouAnytime… and it all boils down to your personal preference.

How did concurrent sneak in there, please?

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