co·​lo·​nial | \kə-ˈlō-nē-əl, -nyəl\

Definition of colonial 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a colony

2 often capitalized : of or relating to the original 13 colonies forming the United States: such as

a : made or prevailing in America during the colonial period colonial architecture

b : adapted from or reminiscent of an American colonial mode of design colonial furniture

3 : forming or existing in a colony colonial organisms

4 : possessing or composed of colonies a colonial empire



Definition of colonial (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a member or inhabitant of a colony

2a : a product (such as a coin or stamp) made for use in a colony

b : a product exhibiting colonial style especially, often capitalized : a house built in the neoclassical style of the American colonial period

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Other Words from colonial


colonialize \ kə-​ˈlō-​nē-​ə-​ˌlīz , -​nyə-​ˌlīz \ transitive verb
colonially adverb
colonialness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for colonial

Synonyms: Adjective

gregarious, sociable, social

Synonyms: Noun

colonist, colonizer, frontiersman, homesteader, pioneer, settler

Antonyms: Adjective

nonsocial, solitary

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Examples of colonial in a Sentence


The country was a colonial power. a colonial nation and its colonial empire The book describes life in Colonial America. an example of colonial architecture The port had been very important in colonial times.


They bought a Colonial on a quiet street. increasing tension between colonials and the mother country
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Now, archaeologists at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have discovered and excavated its remains underneath a colonial period house in downtown Mexico City. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: tanked alcohol trial, Aztec human sacrifice, and speedy gene construction," 22 June 2018 The hotel on Sentosa Island, said to be a pirate haunt and later a 19th-century base for colonial British artillery officers, was purchased last fall by the Kwee family, a billionaire quartet of four brothers, according to the media accounts. CBS News, "Family in charge of hotel hosting summit shares Trump-like ambition," 9 June 2018 The prejudice the Marielitos faced in Miami stemmed in part from their colonial slave ancestry, and was complicated by Castro's antidiscrimination reforms, which initially were only cosmetic. Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader, "History repeats itself over and over again at the African Diaspora Film Festival," 8 June 2018 The king said the name switch is a break with the country's colonial past: Other countries in the region similarly changed their names upon achieving independence (Bechuanaland became Botswana, Nyasaland became Malawi, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe). Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler, "Swaziland Just Changed Its Name to eSwatini," 20 Apr. 2018 The story of why in the briefest possible terms: Farming declined during Puerto Rico’s days as a Spanish colony, when native agriculture ceded to large colonial plantations. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "The Young Farmers Behind Puerto Rico’s Food Revolution," 20 June 2018 Muslim-majority Kashmir is one of the world's enduring geopolitical flashpoints, the epicenter of a rivalry between India and Pakistan that has its roots in the partition of the subcontinent after the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Swati Gupta, CNN, "UN calls for international inquiry into human rights violations in Kashmir," 14 June 2018 Now known as The Estate at Cherokee Dock, the 13,000-square-foot colonial mansion on 83 lakefront acres in Lebanon, Tennessee, is poised to host everything from grand weddings and retreats to corporate events. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Tour The Beautiful Lakefront Event Venue That Used to Be Reba McEntire’s Private Home," 13 June 2018 The hotel is a blend of modern and colonial buildings, with some dating to the 1880s. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, "Tightly Guarded, Singapore Battens Down for a Summit Meeting," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Plans range from a modestly sized ranch to a four-bedroom colonial. Tony Bacewicz,, "West River Farms, East Windsor," 28 June 2018 In its heyday, before the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, the park drew celebrities like John Wayne and Gregory Peck to central Mozambique. Christopher Torchia, The Christian Science Monitor, "Underdogs no more: African wild dogs make comeback in Mozambique," 22 June 2018 One of the more stunning properties in these neighborhoods was a 6,817 square feet southern colonial at 408 E. 7th St., The Heights. Fernando Alfonso Iii, Houston Chronicle, "Homes for sale in Houston’s hottest neighborhoods right now," 1 June 2018 Photo: istock/getty images The first house his team worked on was a stately white colonial with black shutters. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "Summer Jobs Teach Real-World Lessons," 31 May 2018 The milestone step comes after both houses of parliament had earlier approved granting equal rights to the tribes that have been governed by discriminatory laws since British colonial rule. Riaz Khan, The Seattle Times, "Pakistan approves bill to merge tribal regions with country," 27 May 2018 Housed in a pastel-yellow colonial building opposite a 16th-century church, its entrance is flanked by tall vases, depicting sampan gliding between karst hills. The Economist, "The long arm of the dollar," 19 May 2018 The 253-year-old New England colonial sits behind a stone wall erected by a wary homeowner after the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in the early 1930s. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "This is the 16-year-old behind the National School Walkout," 19 Apr. 2018 All these populations met and mingled for the first time in colonial Latin America. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "Latin America’s lost histories revealed in modern DNA," 12 Apr. 2018

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


1768, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1798, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for colonial

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for colonial

The first known use of colonial was in 1768

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More Definitions for colonial



English Language Learners Definition of colonial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to a colony

: owning or made up of colonies

: of or relating to the original 13 colonies forming the United States



English Language Learners Definition of colonial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a two-story house built in a style that was first popular in the U.S. during the American colonial period (before 1776)

: a person who is part of a colony


co·​lo·​nial | \kə-ˈlō-nē-əl \

Kids Definition of colonial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a colony

2 often capitalized : of or relating to the original 13 colonies that formed the United States



Kids Definition of colonial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a member of or a person living in a colony

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More from Merriam-Webster on colonial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for colonial

Spanish Central: Translation of colonial

Nglish: Translation of colonial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colonial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on colonial

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


playful or foolish behavior

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