historic or historical figure [person]

William Wallace is an important historical figure for Scottish people.

According to this link "historic" should be used, but I'm not sure. What do you think?


“Historic” is an adjective that means something important or influential in history. So Denise should say, “The treaty was a historic occasion.” It was an important occasion. It would be incorrect to say, “We sell historic replicas” unless they are replicas that are important to history. You’ve probably heard TV announcers refer to “historic treaties” or perhaps you’ve visited some “historic houses” or “historic battlefields.” All of these were important or famous things in history.
“Historical,” on the other hand, is an adjective that refers to anything from the past, important or not. Denise should say, “We sell historical replicas” because these replicas are from the past; they’re probably not so important. A “historical occasion” would be just some occasion in the past; it wasn’t necessarily an important occasion. “Historical documents” are just documents that record the past. You’ve probably read a “historical novel” or perhaps even a “historical romance,” which are books set in the past. There is nothing especially important about these books; if they were, they’d be “historic books.” The Gutenberg Bible would be a historic book, for example.
  • baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    In my experience, people are rarely historic : the adjective is usually applied to things - places, events, occasions.

    Also note that, in your citation, it is already explicitly stated that William Wallace was "important .. for the Scottish people". So his importance has already been established by other means, and does not require the word "historic". The sentence could be restated as:
    William Wallace is an historical figure who is important for Scottish people.