chap·​el | \ ˈcha-pəl How to pronounce chapel (audio) \

Definition of chapel

1 : a subordinate or private place of worship: such as
a : a place of worship serving a residence or institution
b : a small house of worship usually associated with a main church
c : a room or recess in a church for meditation and prayer or small religious services
2 : a place of worship used by a Christian group other than an established church a nonconformist chapel
3 : a choir of singers belonging to a chapel
4 : a chapel service or assembly at a school or college
5 : an association of the employees in a printing office
b : a room for funeral services in a funeral home

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Did You Know?

Chapel is ultimately derived from the Late Latin word cappa, meaning "cloak." How did we get from a garment to a building? The answer to this question has to do with a shrine created to hold the sacred cloak of St. Martin of Tours. In Medieval Latin, this shrine was called "cappella" (from a diminutive of cappa meaning "short cloak or cape") in reference to the relic it contained. Later, the meaning of "cappella" broadened to include any building that housed a sacred relic, and eventually to a place of worship. Old French picked up the term as "chapele," which in turn passed into English as "chapel" in the 13th century. In case you are wondering, the term a cappella, meaning "without instrumental accompaniment," entered English from Italian, where it literally means "in chapel style."

Examples of chapel in a Sentence

a wedding chapel in Las Vegas Church services will be held in the chapel this week.
Recent Examples on the Web More than two years have passed since Bidnija’s residents have spotted Caruana Galizia driving through their village or attending the annual festival at the chapel of the Sagra Familja. The Economist, "Stories of an extraordinary world The prime minister and the murdered journalist: inside Malta, a nation on the brink," 13 Dec. 2019 More than two years have passed since Bidnija’s residents have spotted Caruana Galizia driving through their village or attending the annual festival at the chapel of the Sagra Familja. Alexander Clapp, 1843, "The prime minister and the murdered journalist: inside Malta, a nation on the brink," 11 Dec. 2019 The book drive started about a month ago when the girls presented their idea to their school at chapel, a time when the students gather for prayer and announcements. Jamie Swinnerton, Houston Chronicle, "Woodlands Christian Academy students organize book drive for Montgomery County Women’s Shelter," 21 Nov. 2019 The ceremony was held at a chapel while the party took place in a ballroom at the Montage Palmetto Bluff Hotel. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything That Went Down at Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber’s Second Wedding," 1 Oct. 2019 In the morning, the senior football players are called to the chapel. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "De La Salle timeline: There were multiple hazing victims on football team," 17 Dec. 2019 Over the past year, visitors have come to the chapel to honor Matthew Shepard by leaving notes, flowers, candles and other mementos that are preserved in the cathedral archives, a cathedral spokesperson said. Maddie Capron And Justin Lear, CNN, "A plaque dedicated to Matthew Shepard installed at Washington National Cathedral," 4 Dec. 2019 The city’s building inspector ordered the upper church closed, which moved all Masses to the basement chapel., "Could the future of Catholicism be taking shape in this church basement? - The Boston Globe," 9 Oct. 2019 She was even photographed hiding in a tent on the way to the chapel where she and Justin, whose wedding tux was designed by Celine's Hedi Slimane, exchanged vows, to avoid her gown design from getting photographed. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hailey Bieber Just Debuted Her Stunning Off-White Wedding Dress," 7 Oct. 2019

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chapel

Middle English, from Anglo-French chapele, from Medieval Latin cappella, from diminutive of Late Latin cappa cloak; from the cloak of St. Martin of Tours preserved as a sacred relic in a chapel built for that purpose

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Time Traveler for chapel

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The first known use of chapel was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chapel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for chapel


How to pronounce chapel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chapel

: a small church
: a room or small building that is used for private church services or prayer by a family or group
: a room or area in a church that is used for prayer or small religious services


chap·​el | \ ˈcha-pəl How to pronounce chapel (audio) \

Kids Definition of chapel

1 : a building or a room or place for prayer or special religious services
2 : a religious service or assembly held in a school or college

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More from Merriam-Webster on chapel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chapel

Spanish Central: Translation of chapel

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

Comments on chapel

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


to insert between existing elements

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