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-ical comp. suffix consisting of -IC and -AL1, repr. (O)F. -ical(e), late L. -icālis, as in clérical, clēricālis, grammaticālis; the number of these was increased in medL. While F. adjs. in -ical are not numerous, Eng. formations are abundant, and are very freq. earlier than corr. words in -IC. A distinction of application is often made where there are parallel forms, e.g. economic in ‘economic theory’, economical in ‘economical housekeeper’, optic in ‘optic nerve’, optical in ‘optical illusion’. In many cases the main distinction is that one form is more usual than the other, as authentic, idiotic, linguistic, but farcical, syntactical, theatrical. Derivative sbs. end in -icality and advs. in -ically, which serves also for adjs. in -ic, e.g. drastic/drastically, specific/ specifically.

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