ba·​sil·​i·​ca | \ bə-ˈsi-li-kə also -ˈzi- How to pronounce basilica (audio) \

Definition of basilica

1 : an oblong building ending in a semicircular apse used in ancient Rome especially for a court of justice and place of public assembly
2 : an early Christian church building consisting of nave and aisles with clerestory and a large high transept from which an apse projects
3 : a Roman Catholic church given ceremonial privileges

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Other Words from basilica

basilican \ bə-​ˈsi-​li-​kən also  -​ˈzi-​ How to pronounce basilican (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

From their noun basileus, meaning “king,” the Greeks derived the adjective basilikos meaning “royal.” In ancient Thera there was a public building called “Basilike stoa,” or Royal portico, and it may have been the prototype of later Roman basilicas. The first of these was built in 184 ce, and by the time of Augustus, there were five basilicas in the vicinity of the forum. They were used for public assembly, transacting business, and judicial proceedings. When the first Christian churches were built, they were often modeled after the civil basilicas.

Examples of basilica in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The basilica outside Madrid where Franco was buried contains the remains of at least 33,000 people. Raphael Minder, New York Times, "Franco’s Exhumation Is Delayed by Spanish Court," 4 June 2019 The Ile de la Cite is Paris’ historic nucleus and had earlier religious structures upon it—a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter was replaced with the advent of Christianity by an early Christian basilica, and then three more churches. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Notre Dame Cathedral Will Never Be the Same—and That's Ok," 19 Apr. 2019 Next to the basilica, a chapel that predates the church by 500 years is capped by a glorious gold statue of Mary overlooking the city. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Loving Lyon: France’s culinary capital is off the tourist path," 20 Feb. 2019 Franco decided to carve the basilica into the mountainside shortly after winning the civil war. Raphael Minder, New York Times, "Plan to Exhume Franco Renews Spain’s Wrestle With History," 7 July 2018 The basilica, where the Pope presides in his role as Archbishop of Rome, was already ancient when it was rebuilt in the 1650s. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral," 30 Nov. 2018 For Solitude: The perfectly proportioned 15th-century Pazzi Chapel, hidden by the walls of Santa Croce basilica, is one of the city’s architectural masterpieces—and so easy to miss. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "In a Struggling Italy, Florence Homes Enjoy a New Renaissance," 28 Nov. 2018 The hallway of the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Spain’s Plan to Exhume Franco Unearths Divisions," 6 Sep. 2018 So far, that data has helped create a 3D digital reconstruction of what the basilica would have looked like in the 4th century. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral," 30 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'basilica.' 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 basilica

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for basilica

borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek basilikḗ (for basilikḕ stoá "royal stoa"), noun derivative from feminine of basilikós "of a king, royal," from basil- (base of basileús "king, prince," of pre-Greek substratal origin) + -ikos -ic entry 1

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Statistics for basilica

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for basilica

The first known use of basilica was in 1541

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English Language Learners Definition of basilica

: a large church that has a long central part that ends in a curved wall

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Spanish Central: Translation of basilica

Nglish: Translation of basilica for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about basilica

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