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 In addition to dorm rooms, the building’s layout included a rec room and chapel in the basement and a large lobby. Matt Wake |, al, "Little Richard’s deep, slightly complicated Alabama roots," 20 May 2020 The first one goes to Bri and Chris, who perform for a couple at a chapel wedding. Lia Beck,, "Listen to Your Heart," 11 May 2020 But in the last two months, funeral home directors have begun to store bodies in viewing rooms and chapels, turning up their air-conditioning systems to avoid decomposition. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "‘We Ran Out of Space’: Bodies Pile Up as N.Y. Struggles to Bury Its Dead," 30 Apr. 2020 Ferncliff has closed a chapel adjacent to its crematorium to store bodies there waiting for cremation. Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, "'It's carnage': Crematoriums run around the clock to meet demand from deadly coronavirus," 20 Apr. 2020 Just having people watch the sun come up over the pond that my chapel overlooks. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "'Here in Spirit': An Oral History of Faith Amid the Pandemic," 10 Apr. 2020 The ruins of the early 14th century chapel sit on a hill nearby the railroad. CNN, "Rail workers discover a 14th century cave while making repairs in England," 8 Apr. 2020 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s son, born on May 6, had his christening on July 6 at Queen Elizabeth’s private chapel at Windsor Castle. Conchita Margaret Widjojo,, "See Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's 10 Best Posts from Their Now-Shuttered Instagram Account," 1 Apr. 2020 At an Army post in northern Italy, theaters, gyms, day-care centers, and chapels have also been closed. Dave Philipps,, "For American military, coronavirus is an enemy to be fought," 29 Feb. 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.

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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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chapel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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