acrop·​o·​lis | \ ə-ˈkrä-pə-ləs How to pronounce acropolis (audio) \

Definition of acropolis

: the upper fortified part of an ancient Greek city (such as Athens) also : a usually fortified height of a city or district elsewhere (as in Central America)

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The Greek root acro- means "high;" thus, an acropolis is basically a "high city". Ancient cities often grew up around a high point, in order that they could easily be defended. The Greeks and Romans usually included in their acropolises temples to the city's most important gods; so, for example, Athens built a great temple on its Acropolis to its protector goddess, Athena, from which the city took its name. Many later European cities cluster around a walled castle on a height, into which the population of the city and the surrounding area could retreat in case of attack, and even South American cities often contain a similar walled area on high ground.

Examples of acropolis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The acropolis of Glas, with its three-kilometer (1.9-mile) fortification walls, is the biggest of its era in Greece. Washington Post, "Greece: New bid to understand prehistoric engineering feat," 8 Nov. 2019 The big pavilion stands apart from the rest of the Clinic campus on a low rise amid lawns and additional rows of trees like a Greek temple on an acropolis. Steven Litt,, "Is CWRU-Clinic Health Education Campus just another big shiny box at a sprawling medical center? - Steven Litt," 14 July 2019 Temple of Sibilla Built in the second century B.C., this rectangular ancient Roman temple is located on the acropolis of Tivoli near the Temple of Vesta. Laura Itzkowitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 Best Day Trips from Rome," 5 Mar. 2018 Just admire it while exploring the acropolis overlooking Villa Gregoriana. Laura Itzkowitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 Best Day Trips from Rome," 5 Mar. 2018 Moses sold the Met, the New York Philharmonic and other institutions on the idea of a cultural acropolis on Manhattan's west side to be known as Lincoln Center. Kenneth Turan,, "The origin story of a New York landmark is well told in 'The Opera House'," 15 Mar. 2018 There was the sheer scope of the artistic megaproject that was the Met and Lincoln Center, muscled through by mid-20th-century power brokers, including Robert Moses and John D. Rockefeller III, who wanted an American cultural acropolis. Michael Cooper, New York Times, "A Starburst Is Born: Watch the Building of the Metropolitan Opera," 15 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acropolis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of acropolis

1570, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acropolis

borrowed from Greek akrópolis, from akro- acro- + pólis "city, body of citizens" — more at police entry 1

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Time Traveler for acropolis

Time Traveler

The first known use of acropolis was in 1570

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Cite this Entry

“Acropolis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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