Printable Version
Pronunciation: tahp-i-kêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Timely, of current relevance or interest, related to current events. 2. Of, related to, or arranged by topics. 3. (Medicine) Local, localized, specific to one part of the body, as 'a topical anesthetic'.

Notes: Although this word is derived from topic, its most frequently used sense is, at best, marginally related to that of topic. We have been using this word a lot lately, so I thought it best we explore it. The adverb is topically and, the noun, topicality.

In Play: That which is topical is a combination of currently relevant and of interest to some group: "Local newspapers can be relied upon to carry stories that are topical for the local community." Any group you can name: "'Corruption', unfortunately, is always topical in the world of politics."

Word History: Topic is a singular backformation of Topics, the translated title of a work by Aristotle on logic and rhetoric. English borrowed and translated the word directly from Latin Topica, which was borrowed from Greek Ta Topika "The Topics", literally "matters concerning (local) places". Topika is the noun use of the neuter plural of topikos "related to (local) places", based on topos "place". How Greek came to possess this word is a mystery. No trace of it can be found in any other Indo-European language.

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!