co·​lo·​nial | \ kə-ˈlō-nē-əl How to pronounce colonial (audio) , -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 How to pronounce colonial (audio) , -​nyə-​ˌlīz \ transitive verb
colonially adverb
colonialness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for colonial

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of colonial in a Sentence

Adjective 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. Noun 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 Hartman’s focus on the mythological and historical Venus, the goddess of love and the derogatory pseudonym of Saartjie Baartman in colonial South Africa, offers an amazing predecessor to the reality of Black women navigating tech and media. Sydette Harry, Wired, "Listening to Black Women: The Innovation Tech Can't Figure Out," 11 Jan. 2021 Based on common law principles and a legacy of its British colonial past, the courts are seen as one of the last holdouts against Beijing’s increasingly assertive rule. Natasha Khan, WSJ, "Hong Kong Media Mogul Jimmy Lai Sent Back to Jail," 31 Dec. 2020 Pianon is a notary from Verona, a widower who dresses in elegant shirts and trousers tailored, colonial-style, from linen of an archaic thickness. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 By now, Pegu Club on Houston Street in Manhattan is the subject of at least as many myths as the original Pegu Club on Cheape Road in colonial Rangoon. New York Times, "The Restaurants We’ve Lost," 28 Dec. 2020 In 1887, for example, a stellar crowd partied at Orlando’s Opera House at a colonial ball, just a few blocks from where the Dr. Phillips Center now stands. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, "Orlandoans greeted New Year in variety of good-time venues," 27 Dec. 2020 But decades of colonial divide-and-rule policies, including treating Hindus and Muslims as separate electorates, had led to rising religious tensions. Billy Perrigo, Time, "How a Refugee Revisited His Birth Village During the Pandemic – After 73 Years Away," 24 Dec. 2020 Boggs accused a top colonial official, Daniel Caldwell, and another notorious pirate, Ma Chow Wong, of working together in secret to protect each others' interests. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "The American pirate who kicked off one of Hong Kong's earliest major political scandals," 22 Dec. 2020 Drive through lit tunnels and past colonial village light displays inspired by historic Annapolis. Washington Post, "Drive-through light displays are a bright spot in toned-down holiday celebrations," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So much so that he was charged with sedition, the cardinal colonial sin. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "‘The Irish Buddhist’ Review: Monk on a Mission," 27 Dec. 2020 Did a storm disturb a pirate treasure chest or break open up a sunken colonial frigate? New York Times, "Treasure Washes Up on Venezuela’s Shore, Bringing Gold and Hope to a Village," 12 Dec. 2020 The Warfles live in a 3,000-square-foot colonial — plenty of room to socially distance. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "A mom's nightmare: Her autistic son had to fight COVID-19 alone in the hospital," 30 Nov. 2020 This is due to the colonial-era Court of Chancery that settles business disputes with as little stress as possible. Washington Post, "Delaware is famous for corporations, chemicals, chickens — and now, finally, a president," 16 Nov. 2020 There’s this one image of this old colonial, old money, private schools, yachts, the WASP idea of aged history. Susan Dunne,, "Ocean Vuong on Hartford, Glastonbury, the American character and the lasting trauma of the people of Vietnam," 18 Oct. 2020 Deed and tax records show the spacious colonial was owned until last year by Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan, a couple that helped found People of Praise four decades ago. Michael Biesecker And Michelle R. Smith, Star Tribune, "Barrett lived in house owned by co-founders of faith group," 6 Oct. 2020 At the next house, a red-brick colonial, James Arnold, who worked in financial services, opened the door. Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker, "Does Door-Knocking Matter?," 6 Oct. 2020 Modern Chinese like to contrast brutal European colonial adventures with the 15th-century voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He and his treasure fleets, which sailed across the Indian Ocean but conquered no one. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "The Future of Chinese Power," 5 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for colonial

Time Traveler

The first known use of colonial was in 1768

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Statistics for colonial

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colonial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for colonial


How to pronounce colonial (audio)

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 How to pronounce colonial (audio) \

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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