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."

Example Sentences

a wedding chapel in Las Vegas Church services will be held in the chapel this week.
Recent Examples on the Web My nephew, Michael, is getting married in the family chapel. Marc Myers, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2022 The congregation opened the chapel to a media preview on Wednesday. Peter Smith, ajc, 17 Nov. 2022 Clarke drove there in a van filled with blush peony and peach gerbera centerpieces and flowers for the Camp David chapel. Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2022 The chapel was also adorned with fire hydrants, bullet casings, expanding insulation foam and a traffic cone wrapped in a hoodie. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Nov. 2022 The chapel perches 200 feet above the valley floor, thrusting upward between two burly pillars of rock. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 11 Nov. 2022 Building contractors working in a neighboring room took fire extinguishers to the blaze and removed paintings from the chapel until the raining embers forced them to leave at 11:32 a.m. Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 26 Oct. 2022 Stiles said the youth group members were escorted from the chapel through the door farthest from the crash scene. Laura Crimaldi,, 22 Oct. 2022 Momoa shared several photos from inside the historic chapel, which features famous Michelangelo masterpieces, and fans on Instagram were quick to point that photography was not permitted. CBS News, 7 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on chapel

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