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 Below that site, in the basilica’s courtyard, groups of dancers from across the country perform before and during the feast. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Every year millions of miracle-seeking pilgrims visit Mexico City," 24 Dec. 2019 The relics are still in Bari’s San Nicola basilica. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Call It a Crime of Pasta," 7 Dec. 2019 The relics are still in Bari’s San Nicola basilica., "The scene — the grannies, the handmade pasta, the curved stone street — evoked the southern Italy of popular imagination.," 7 Dec. 2019 Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 1,700-year-old Christian basilica in Ethiopia. Fox News, "1,700-year-old Christian basilica discovered in Ethiopia," 13 Dec. 2019 Aguilar thinks the basilica should be desacralized and turned into a museum. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "Franco’s Body Is Exhumed, as Spain Still Struggles to Confront the Past," 26 Oct. 2019 The family ultimately conceded, although not without first petitioning for military honors and a Mass at the basilica. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "Franco’s Body Is Exhumed, as Spain Still Struggles to Confront the Past," 26 Oct. 2019 Its basilica is dug deep into the mountainside, and lined with statues of avenging archangels. The Economist, "Franco’s exhumation is both historical duty and electoral stunt," 24 Oct. 2019 Sánchez has met opposition from Franco’s relatives and the abbot of the basilica within the huge mausoleum complex where the dictator was buried in 1975. Washington Post, "Spanish court halts government plan to exhume Franco," 5 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for basilica

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The first known use of basilica was in 1541

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Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Basilica.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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More Definitions for basilica


How to pronounce basilica (audio)

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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What made you want to look up basilica? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

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