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 colonialize (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 This was a full bathroom remodel in a two-story colonial home in Holly Springs that was built in 1987. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, "From heated floors to marble countertops, these bathroom renovations will make you swoon," 28 May 2020 This would be called and in time would become capitalism, though the economy Marx critiques under that name is the highly exceptional colonial, industrial, and mercantilist Britain of the nineteenth century. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 The resulting building boom transformed the sleepy, seedy and corrupt former colonial outpost into a glitzy gambling powerhouse fueled by high-rolling mainland Chinese. Zen Soo And Kelvin Chan, USA TODAY, "Stanley Ho, father of modern gambling in China, dies at 98," 26 May 2020 More than half of Haiti’s 11 million people are believed to practice voodoo, a religion brought from West Africa centuries ago by enslaved men and women and practiced clandestinely under French colonial rule. NBC News, "Texas Chick-fil-A holds graduation ceremony for employees," 26 May 2020 Embedded within this once-bohemian, colonial-era spit of land are 20 artists and writers who arrive every October and remain past the final frost. Los Angeles Times, "They came to make art in isolation; the pandemic forced them to stay," 29 Apr. 2020 On Monday night, Nigeria became the latest country on the continent to impose a 14-day lockdown in major states across the country as President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a law from the country's colonial era. Stephanie Busari And Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "'We don't work, we don't eat': Informal workers face stark choices as Africa's largest megacity shuts down," 31 Mar. 2020 According to John Ford, an entomologist for the British colonial administration in East Africa, Africans had established a rough equilibrium between two ecosystems: the human and domestic on the one hand, and the natural and wild on the other. Carey Baraka, Quartz Africa, "I am alive because my Kenyan great-grandfather quarantined 100 years ago and here we go again," 26 Apr. 2020 In the hands of director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth), the colonial outback has perhaps never felt this alien or remote on screen, all scorched landscapes and dead trees white and brittle as bone. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to stream (and skip) on HBO and Apple TV+ this weekend," 24 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Where to stay Start or end a road trip in Santiago, a city of more than 6 million where luxe high-rises tower over colonial-era markets. Dan Q. Dao, Condé Nast Traveler, "A 3-Day Road Trip Through Chile's Wine Country," 11 May 2020 Just last week, an appeals court considered the November ruling and upheld the Hong Kong lower court’s decision, finding that local authorities acted within their power by resurrecting colonial-era laws, including the mask ban. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Coronavirus pits anti-mask laws against public health," 15 Apr. 2020 The ruling follows challenges to the colonial-era law by activists who were emboldened after India’s Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 2018. New York Times, "Singapore’s Top Court Upholds Law Criminalizing Gay Sex," 30 Mar. 2020 The ruling follows challenges to the colonial-era law by activists emboldened after India’s decision to scrap similar legislation in 2018. NBC News, "Singapore court upholds colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men," 30 Mar. 2020 After decades of warfare, the revolutionary forces of the Zimbabwean people had prevailed over brutal white colonial rule and their supporters in the international community. Olu Alake, Quartz Africa, "Forty years ago, Bob Marley paid his own way to play Zimbabwe’s iconic independence concert," 18 Apr. 2020 San Xavier del Bac The Mission San Xavier del Bac is noted for its elegant Spanish colonial architecture and colorful art adorning the interior. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Free things to do in Tucson: 10 activities you can do with no money," 16 Jan. 2020 The skeletons of three 16th-century African slaves recovered from a mass grave in Mexico City are shedding new light on the early colonial-era slave trade. Fox News, "16th-century African skeletons discovered in Mexico City shed new light on early colonial slave trade," 1 May 2020 Lunch at a colonial-era hacienda before continuing to Cusco. Jordan Harvey, Travel + Leisure, "Jordan Harvey's 14-day Itinerary to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos," 23 Apr. 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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Colonial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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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