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topic +‎ -al



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topical (comparative more topical, superlative most topical)

  1. Relating to a particular topic or subject.
    The book is divided into topical chapters.
  2. Relating to a topic or subject of current interest.
    Fair trade has become quite a topical issue.
  3. Local to a particular place.
  4. (medicine, not comparable) Applied to a localized part of the body.
    Antonym: systemic
  5. (medicine, not comparable) Applied externally (to the surface of the skin or eye).
    • 2003, Peter G. Pappas, “Terbinafine”, in William E. Dismukes, Peter G. Pappas, Jack D. Sobel, editors, Clinical Mycology, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 106:
      Terbinafine is available in 250 mg tablets and in a topical 1% ointment. There is no parenteral form available.
  6. Arranged according to topic or theme; thematic.

Related terms[edit]


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topical (plural topicals)

  1. A substance, especially a medication, applied externally (to the surface of the skin or eye).
    • 2012 August 8, Alix Strauss, “Marketing Time in a Bottle Pays Off”, in The New York Times[1]:
      Small amounts of potent ingredients can, in theory, mean far less skin irritation, as one might get with a one-time high dose of retinol. And with topicals, there is a more uniform delivery of product to the skin’s surface.
    • 2016 March 30, Kate Branch, “Whoopi Goldberg Wants to Cure Your PMS—With Cannabis”, in Glamour[2]:
      "This is a great introductory line to first-time cannabis users because two of the items are topicals, which don't get you high," says Elisabeth, who prides herself and her growers on having a well-balanced and chemical-free strand.
    1. (pharmacology) A topical anaesthetic.
  2. A joke dealing with current events or topical subjects.
    • 2017 November 4, Michael Billington, “Ken Dodd at 90: the rib-tickling genius is still crazy after all these years”, in The Guardian[3]:
      You can’t do a show at an audience – you have to do a show with an audience and structure the act so that you start with the “hello” gags, then the topicals, then the surreal stuff.
  3. (philately) A postage stamp depicting a particular theme or subject (such as birds or trains), potentially sought out by topical stamp collectors.
    • 1956 December, “Classified Advertisements: Stamp collecting”, in Popular Mechanics, volume 106, number 6, page 57:
      beautiful Pictorials, topicals, commemoratives, airmails. Introductory selection 40% discount. Ralph Rice, 15 Longlane, West Hartford 7, Conn.