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

Keep scrolling for more

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 And one of a midnight elopement and angry men with guns, lanterns and dogs hunting for the young couple, who'd hidden themselves in a mountaintop chapel. John Kass And Chicago Tribune, Star Tribune, "Yes, Mom. I'm here," 23 Dec. 2020 In a typical year, the choir performs in religious services in the college chapel several times a week and tours worldwide. New York Times, "A Choir Tries to Keep Its Christmas Tradition Alive," 22 Dec. 2020 And one of a midnight elopement and angry men with guns, lanterns and dogs hunting for the young couple, who’d hidden themselves in a mountaintop chapel. John Kass,, "Column: Yes Mom, I’m here.," 19 Dec. 2020 On the last Saturday of the month, two visitors from Nome, Alaska, attended a standing-room-only service in the small local chapel. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "For churchgoers during the Covid-19 pandemic, a deadly lesson from the 1918 flu," 3 Dec. 2020 The show starts with a chapel-like room emphasizing the museum’s present collecting goals—a political statement, unavoidably. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Metropolitan Museum at a Hundred and Fifty," 23 Nov. 2020 Rothko created the work under a skylight in his Manhattan studio and insisted John and Dominique de Menil, who commissioned his work, install one in the chapel. Emma Balter, Condé Nast Traveler, "Houston’s Rothko Chapel Reopens After Months of Renovations," 24 Sep. 2020 In their rehearsal, the boys’ voices soared and echoed off the chapel’s walls. New York Times, "A Choir Tries to Keep Its Christmas Tradition Alive," 22 Dec. 2020 The property, which features at least one dove in each room and 43 Christmas trees during the holiday season, includes a private chapel as well as a homemade waterfall and six outdoor aviaries with more than 60 birds. Tara Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Eight Elaborate Christmas Displays Across America—and the People Behind Them," 9 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chapel

Time Traveler for chapel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about chapel

Statistics for chapel

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chapel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!