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
basilicanplay \-kən\ adjective
Recent Examples of basilica from the Web
The reliquary was apparently stolen Friday night from the basilica of Castelnuovo Don Bosco, so named for the town’s most famous son.
The basilica, designed by Louis-Marie Cordonnier, is adorned with colorful mosaics.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of basilica
borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek basilikḗ (for basilikḗ 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 1-ic
First Known Use: 1541
BASILICA Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of basilica for English Language Learners
: a large church that has a long central part that ends in a curved wall
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up basilica? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).