adjective \ˈspir-i-chə-wəl, -i-chəl, -ich-wəl\

: of or relating to a person's spirit

: of or relating to religion or religious beliefs

: having similar values and ideas : related or joined in spirit

Full Definition of SPIRITUAL

:  of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit :  incorporeal <spiritual needs>
a :  of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs>
b :  ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
:  concerned with religious values
:  related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>
a :  of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena
b :  of, relating to, or involving spiritualism :  spiritualistic
spir·i·tu·al·ly adverb
spir·i·tu·al·ness noun

Examples of SPIRITUAL

  1. Doctors must consider the emotional and spiritual needs of their patients.
  2. I regularly consult our pastor about spiritual matters.
  3. The Romantic composers saw Beethoven as a spiritual ancestor.
  4. France will always be the spiritual home of wine lovers.


Middle English, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French espirital, spiritual, from Late Latin spiritualis, from Latin, of breathing, of wind, from spiritus
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Christian Religious Terms

Pentateuch, blasphemy, curate, doxology, eremite, iconoclasm, liturgy, orison, pneuma, reliquary



: a religious folk song that was sung originally by African-Americans in the southern U.S.

Full Definition of SPIRITUAL

plural :  things of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, or religious nature
:  a religious song usually of a deeply emotional character that was developed especially among blacks in the southern United States
capitalized :  any of a party of 13th and 14th century Franciscans advocating strict observance of a rule of poverty for their order

Examples of SPIRITUAL

  1. The congregation sang hymns and spirituals.
  2. <sang a spiritual at the funeral>

First Known Use of SPIRITUAL



noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In North American white and black folk music, an English-language folk hymn. White spirituals derived variously, notably from the “lining out” of psalms, dating from at least the mid-17th century. Where congregations could not read, a leader intoned the psalm one line at a time, alternating with the congregation's singing of each line to a familiar melody; the tune, sung slowly, was ornamented with passing notes, turns, and other graces. A second source was the singing of hymns set to borrowed melodies, often secular folk tunes. Themes included going home to the promised land and gaining ground against sin; typical refrains were “Roll, Jordan” and “Glory Hallelujah.” The songs survive in oral tradition in isolated areas and also in the form of shape-note singings. African American spirituals developed in part from white rural folk hymnody but differ greatly in voice quality, vocal effects, rhythm, and type of rhythmic accompaniment. They were sung not only in worship but also as work songs, and the text imagery often reflects concrete tasks. Like the white gospel song, the modern African American gospel song derives from the spiritual.


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