fu·​nic·​u·​lar | \ fyu̇-ˈni-kyə-lər How to pronounce funicular (audio) , fə-\

Definition of funicular

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having the form of or associated with a cord usually under tension
2 [ New Latin funiculus ] : of, relating to, or being a funiculus
3 : of, relating to, or being a funicular a funicular system



Definition of funicular (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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: Adjective

In years to follow, Walker staged all sorts of events in the area and built a funicular railway, later scrapped. Christopher Reynolds,, "Sitting in the palm of nature: The unique energy — and performances — of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre," 12 July 2018 In 1910, a funicular railway was completed from the village of Mülenen up to the peak. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Longest Staircase Is in Switzerland," 4 June 2018 For the best views, grab a seat in the funicular’s front carriage for the 1,640-foot vertical ride to the park, where four restaurants and a variety of carnival rides await you (3 lari a ride). Debra Kamin, New York Times, "36 Hours in Tbilisi," 7 June 2018 The funicular railway will be a mode of regular transportation for Stoos residents. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Wo​rld's Steepest Railway Opens in Switzerland," 21 Dec. 2017 Just in time for the winter ski season, the world's steepest funicular railway opened in the Swiss alpine resort of Stoos this weekend. Elaheh Nozari, Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Steepest Funicular Just Opened in Switzerland," 17 Dec. 2017 According to a photo of a note on the funicular posted to Twitter today by Esotouric, a preservation group who campaigned actively for the Angels Flight restoration, the stated reason for the closure is the recent heat wave. Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "Angels Flight Is Already Grounded Again Because Nothing Good in Life Can Last," 5 Sep. 2017 How about knocking down one of the stripmalls or gas stations located north of the Hollywood/Highland center and throwing up a funicular station? Neal Broverman, Los Angeles Magazine, "4 Places Around L.A. That Need Their Own Angels Flight," 31 Aug. 2017 Billed as the world's shortest and steepest scenic railway, the funicular offers expansive views of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Lori Rackl,, "See fall colors from on high with hot-air balloon rides, zip-line tours and more," 4 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On the rocky headland separating the Atlantic from False Bay, ride a funicular to the lighthouse at Cape Point. National Geographic, "Africa by Private Jet," 12 June 2019 Getting around: Lyon has a user-friendly transit system with trams, Metro lines, and buses, plus two funiculars to get you up Fourviere Hill. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Loving Lyon: France’s culinary capital is off the tourist path," 20 Feb. 2019 Set on 17 acres of gardens, with a lobby designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel) and a gorgeous glass funicular to ferry you to the pool, the hotel is on another level. Condé Nast Traveler, "La Compagnie Flight Deal: Business Class to the French Riviera for $1,200," 4 Dec. 2018 Alpenwild offers a 10-day/nine-night tour that scales those peaks compliments of Switzerland’s amazing network of trains, trams, and funiculars. Phil Marty,, "Scaling the Swiss Alps on trains and trams, ranking road-trip friendly states and more," 27 June 2018 But more interesting than the funicular, in my opinion, is what runs up the mountain right alongside it: a two-mile staircase with a slope that gets up to a glute-grinding 65-percent gradient. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Longest Staircase Is in Switzerland," 4 June 2018 The new Italian elevators, which move at a diagonal, like funiculars, were very much in order and kind of thrilling to ride. Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "New York's Newest Subway Station: a Gateway to Dubai-on-the-Hudson," 15 Sep. 2015 These funiculars reward riders with spectacular panoramic views of the city and the three rivers that spawned it. John Carpenter,, "8 cities worth a guys trip for March Madness," 21 Feb. 2018 Located in the Mesa neighborhood, the property includes five villas built on the hillside and reachable by a funicular. WSJ, "The Palm Springs Compound of Actress Suzanne Somers," 22 Dec. 2017

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


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1888, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for funicular


Latin funiculus

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The first known use of funicular was in 1823

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English Language Learners Definition of funicular

: a railway going up and down a mountain that carries people in cars pulled by a moving cable


fu·​nic·​u·​lar | \ fyu̇-ˈnik-yə-lər, fə- How to pronounce funicular (audio) \

Medical Definition of funicular

: of, relating to, or being a funiculus

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More from Merriam-Webster on funicular

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with funicular

Spanish Central: Translation of funicular

Britannica English: Translation of funicular for Arabic Speakers

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