chap·​el ˈcha-pəl How to pronounce chapel (audio)
: a subordinate or private place of worship: such as
: a place of worship serving a residence or institution
: a small house of worship usually associated with a main church
: a room or recess in a church for meditation and prayer or small religious services
: a place of worship used by a Christian group other than an established church
a nonconformist chapel
: a choir of singers belonging to a chapel
: a chapel service or assembly at a school or college
: an association of the employees in a printing office
: a room for funeral services in a funeral home

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. Anglo-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 Built from thousands of rocks from the San Gabriel River that were carried in wheelbarrows and with donkeys, Our Lady of Guadalupe opened in 1917, when the first Mass was celebrated inside the small chapel. Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2023 And these weddings are starting to seem as artificial as a drive-through Las Vegas chapel. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2023 Not only can fans get married at the wedding chapel, but legendary bands frequently renew their vows with reunions and full album playthroughs. Josh Chesler, Spin, 20 Sep. 2023 One of the title’s best, absolutely absurd sequences involves Mario chasing Peach—who’s strapped to the back of her captor, a bearded weirdo named Booster—uphill, dodging barrels and minions as she’s rushed off to a chapel to get married against her will. WIRED, 15 Nov. 2023 The pair got hitched in a wedding chapel at about 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday in January and the next day arranged for an annulment in the presence of several people, including a lawyer. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Then, around 6:30 p.m., an audience of inmates and corrections officials took their seats in the auditorium, adjacent to the chapel. Javier C. Hernández, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2023 That’s how we got married at 3:30 a.m. in a wedding chapel. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 4 Oct. 2023 The chapel, which dates back to 1181, is reportedly the only UK cathedral where the Sovereign has had a special stall in the Quire since the Reformation—Elizabeth herself sat in the stall four times over the years while visiting St Davids, according to Kensington Palace. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chapel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near chapel

Cite this Entry

“Chapel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


chap·​el ˈchap-əl How to pronounce chapel (audio)
: a building or place for prayer or special religious services
: a religious service or assembly at a school or college

Middle English chapel "chapel," from early French chapele (same meaning), from Latin cappella "chapel," literally, "little cloak," from cappa "cloak, head covering"; so called from the structure built to house a revered cloak of Saint Martin of Tours — related to cape entry 2, chaperone

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