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Both words are adjectives but they have very different meanings.

  1. In a _____________ step towards nuclear disarmament, Gorbachev and Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987.
  2. Czech attitudes towards religion should be examined within a broader ______________ context.

historic

Definition: Famous or important in history, or potentially so.

Thus the correct answer is 

 1. In a historic step towards nuclear disarmament, Gorbachev and Reagan signed the INF treaty in 1987. 

Additional examples: 

‘the area’s numerous historic sites’

‘a historic occasion’

‘The new president took office at a historic point in the nation’s development.’

‘The Munich Pact can be seen as a historic decision to appease Hitler which ultimately did not prevent war

historical

Definition: Of or concerning history or past events. (“Historical” usually does not have the implication of importance or fame that is carried by “historic”.) 

Thus the correct answer is 

2. Czech attitudes towards religion should be examined within a broader historical context. 

Additional examples: 

‘historical evidence’

‘historical factors’ 

‘By casting recent events in historical perspective, the scholar sheds new light on them.’

‘Studies based on historical records are necessarily limited in the kinds of questions they can answer.’

1.1 Belonging to the past.

‘famous historical figures’

1.2 (especially of a novel or film) set in the past.

‘These historical artifacts were found under the foundation of the ancient church.’(especially of a novel or film) set in the past.

‘The historical television series Vikings portrays some real events, using a mixture of fact and fiction.’ 

Elizabeth is a historical film based on the life of Queen Elizabeth I of England.’3 (of the study of a subject) based on an analysis of its development over a period

1.3 (of the study of a subject) based on an analysis of its development over a period.

‘He demonstrates that serious historical scholarship need not be indigestible.’

‘It is unquestionably one of the most important historical studies of recent years.’

Source: Oxford Online Dictionaries

Additional information: Oxford Online Dictionaries usage; Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary usage notes

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Pamela Cotte

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