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fu·​nic·​u·​lar fyu̇-ˈni-kyə-lər How to pronounce funicular (audio)
: having the form of or associated with a cord usually under tension
[New Latin funiculus] : of, relating to, or being a funiculus
: of, relating to, or being a funicular
a funicular system


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: a cable railway ascending a mountain
especially : one in which an ascending car counterbalances a descending car

Did you know?

You may have fun on a funicular, but the word is not related to "fun" (which comes to us from an English dialect verb meaning "to hoax"). The noun "funicular" descends from an earlier adjective funicular, meaning "relating to a cord under tension." It was also influenced by "funiculaire," a French word used for a type of railway that is dependent upon cables (or on "cords under tension"). Ultimately, these terms trace back to the Latin noun funiculus, meaning "small rope." "Funicular" first appeared in print as an adjective in English in 1664; the noun has been with us since the early 20th century.

Examples of funicular in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
While the hotel does not have direct beach access, guests can take the various stairs and pathways or a private glass funicular ride down to Paloma Beach located nearby. Monica Mendal, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 Its current design replaces a 2019 concept by MAD Architects, which featured a funicular railway that wrapped its exterior. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 25 Mar. 2024 Take a funicular ride up Monte San Salvatore at the city's edge, offering a bird’s eye view deep into Italy to the south and north to the Swiss Alps. Everett Potter, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Even the moment of arrival is grand: Take the boat across the lake and the funicular up to the property, which is made up of four different hotel concepts, three separate spas, plus multiple dining venues, including Taverne 1879, the traditional Swiss kitchen. Chadner Navarro, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Dec. 2023 Up to 1,500 passengers an hour, plus their skis or snowboards, can also be carried – a 50% increase over the previous funicular railway. Ben Jones, CNN, 8 May 2023 Across the Catalina Channel are L.A.’s beaches, and — elusive as the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly that disports itself there — the ghost of Playa del Rey’s funicular railway. Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2021 Members of the public can access it by paying a fee (funicular cost included), either with a reservation or as walk-in guests. John Scarpinato, Travel + Leisure, 5 Mar. 2023 Dine: Ride the spiffy Merkur mountain funicular carriage to the charming Wolpertinger restaurant for satisfying traditional fare such as Spätzle cheese noodles and schnitzel served cliffside with chilled Reisling. Mosha Lundström Halbert, Vogue, 21 July 2022
Explore the city's distinct neighborhoods, castles, and palaces, or hop aboard a funicular to climb its steep hills for a scenic tour of the city. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 7 Apr. 2024 Lugano Dante is a boutique hotel in a small square in the heart of this vertical city, adjacent to the funicular that brings you up to the train station. Everett Potter, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Ride the funicular up to the UNESCO World Heritage View lookout point for stunning views of Hallstatt village, the lake, and surrounding mountains. Lydia Mansel, Travel + Leisure, 26 Nov. 2023 Situated on a 200-foot mountainside with postcard-perfect views of an azure Caribbean Sea, the villas feature three-bedrooms and four bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, private plunge pool, bathrooms with rain showers and soaking tubs, and direct access to a future on-property funicular. Kristin Braswell, Travel + Leisure, 12 Sep. 2023 In Orvieto, a funicular (1.3 euros) will take you up to the town, which sits on a rock cliff, overlooking the surrounding green valley and distant hills. Perri Klass, New York Times, 5 July 2023 Take the funicular to the tiny village of Brunate for an amazing panorama. Anne Olivia Bauso, Travel + Leisure, 20 Apr. 2023 From the Mirador de Sant Joan at the top of the funicular, hikers can choose from several routes of varying difficulty that lead to different hermitages in the mountains. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2023 Karma Kandara Beach Unlike Green Bowl, the descent to this exclusive beach is made not on foot but in a funicular. John Scarpinato, Travel + Leisure, 5 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'funicular.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin funiculus

First Known Use


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1888, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of funicular was in 1823


Dictionary Entries Near funicular

Cite this Entry

“Funicular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a cable railway going up a mountain

Medical Definition


fu·​nic·​u·​lar fyu̇-ˈnik-yə-lər, fə- How to pronounce funicular (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a funiculus

More from Merriam-Webster on funicular

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