ca·​the·​dral | \ kə-ˈthē-drəl \

Definition of cathedral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or containing a cathedra
2 : emanating from a chair of authority
3 : suggestive of a cathedral a cathedral grove of redwoods



Definition of cathedral (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a church that is the official seat of a diocesan bishop
2 : something that resembles or suggests a cathedral (as in size or importance) a cathedral of business the sports cathedral

Illustration of cathedral

Illustration of cathedral


cathedral 1

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms for cathedral

Synonyms: Noun

edifice, hall, palace, tower

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Examples of cathedral in a Sentence


the company didn't want just a new office building—it demanded a cathedral that proclaimed its place among the giants of finance

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

After the service, families of the dead planned to plant an olive tree on the cathedral grounds before a national minute of silence at 4:30 p.m. The words #LondonUnited were due to be projected onto the bridge late Sunday. Jill Lawless,, "U.K. remembers London Bridge attack victims on 1st anniversary," 3 June 2018 Scattered across a forested campus between Canggu and Ubud, the open classrooms are built out of sustainably harvested bamboo bent into soaring, cathedral-like spires and designed by Hardy’s daughter Elora, founder of the architecture firm Ibuku. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Finding the Bali You Came For," 16 Nov. 2018 Meghan opted for a cathedral length veil, embroidered with the 50 flowers of the British commonwealth. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress Compared to Meghan Markle's–and Kate Middleton's," 12 Oct. 2018 Some have private lanai hot tubs, and all have ocean views and cathedral ceilings. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Resorts in Hawaii: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 England is basking in unexpected World Cup success as coach Gareth Southgate is elevated to national hero status, cathedral organs belt out football anthems and the country prepares to shut down for Wednesday's semi-final. Pirate Irwin,, "Southgate, England bask in unexpected World Cup success," 8 July 2018 The cathedral stairway was brought piece by piece from England. Lauren Beale,, "Vintage SoCal: Menagerie kept La Cañada Flintridge estate a little wild," 22 June 2018 The cathedral bells would toll 27 times to mark each year of the slain officer's life. Fox News, "The Latest: Special Mass scheduled for slain officer," 26 Apr. 2018 Details include cathedral ceilings, oak floors and skylights. Lauren Beale,, "French tenor Sébastien Izambard reprises his role as seller in Malibu," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Without their endowments these cathedrals, chapels and synagogues couldn’t keep the lights on. WSJ, "What to Do With Empty Churches," 31 Jan. 2019 Towns are marked by their cathedrals, convents and roadside shrines, where the Virgin watches passing traffic or St. George slays the dragon. Tim Sullivan, The Seattle Times, "AP finds long history of nuns abused by priests in India," 1 Jan. 2019 Dry river mouths gape among dunes the height of cathedrals. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 Its walls still hold some of the original material used to build the cathedral under Emperor Constantine in 312 CE. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral," 30 Nov. 2018 Later in life, Shirleyann tended to the cathedral's courtyard garden, where many of her hostas and iris can be seen and enjoyed by all today. Hartford Courant,, "Shirleyann McDonald," 19 June 2018 Later Monday, Francis was greeting elderly Latvians at the Catholic cathedral in Riga before heading to the Catholic shrine at Aglona, near Latvia's eastern border with Russia, that is a draw for the faithful across the region. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "Pope praises Latvia's Christian roots in enduring occupation," 24 Sep. 2018 Now, New York Pilates has given it a cathedral-like feel, with whitewashed brick walls, birch flooring, and a trio of soaring arched windows that let in natural light. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "These 5 Pilates Studios Have Fierce—and Incredibly Fit—Followings for a Reason," 21 Sep. 2018 After sampling a glass of briny, ice-cold manzanilla, Sanlúcar’s signature pour, drive south to Jerez to the cathedral-like Williams & Humbert, Europe’s largest winery, which sprawls nearly two million square feet. Benjamin Kemper, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Guide to Spanish Wine Country," 7 Mar. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for cathedral

Last Updated

27 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for cathedral

The first known use of cathedral was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cathedral



English Language Learners Definition of cathedral

: the main church of an area that is headed by a bishop


ca·​the·​dral | \ kə-ˈthē-drəl \

Kids Definition of cathedral

: the principal church of a district headed by a bishop

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Comments on cathedral

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esteemed in general opinion

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