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 Lawns and patios surround a swimming pool and basketball court outside, where a funicular descends to 256 feet of beach frontage. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, "WhatsApp’s Jan Koum drops $87 million on the house next door in Malibu," 22 Feb. 2021 The funicular railway and the winding staircase that led up to the medieval hilltop town were both deserted. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Bergamo’s Pandemic Survivors Carry Scars Unseen and Incalculable," 6 Dec. 2020 The funicular, built in 1892, takes passengers up one of the steepest hills in Lisbon. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Places That Could Be Straight Out of a Wes Anderson Film," 14 Oct. 2020 There is only one main access road, but visitors can also arrive by boat, funicular railway, or helicopter. Catherine Bosley,, "WEF Says 2021 Annual Meeting to Take Place in Lucerne in May," 7 Oct. 2020 On top of Mtsaminda Hill, which can also be reached via the old funicular railway, the view over the city is sensational. Pamela Mccourt Francescone, Travel + Leisure, "Tbilisi Is Home to Modern Architecture, Historic Bathhouses, and a Charm That’s Distinctly Georgian," 7 Aug. 2020 Currently almost every lift in the entire resort is closed, but the faithful little funicular that leads up to our tiny hamlet is still chugging away. David Canfield,, "First look: Ruth Ware is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller," 16 Apr. 2020 Passengers would then hop on a funicular railway that would whisk them upward. New York Times, "Park Hill, Yonkers, N.Y.: A ‘Secret Neighborhood’ Overlooking the Bronx," 12 Feb. 2020 Ride the 131-year-old funicular railway from the Lower Terminus to Victoria Peak, a mountaintop on Hong Kong Island. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong? I went to find out.," 20 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rogers added a funicular from the cliff the house sits on down to the ocean—a home improvement that brought with it a $2 million fine from city officials. Chris Morris, Fortune, "WhatsApp cofounder spent more than $300 million on L.A. mansions," 18 Feb. 2021 This sense of cosmic vastness shadowed me across the rolling farms of the Maya lowlands to La Lancha, where cheery wooden casitas hung with traditional textiles sit on a hillside so steep there's a funicular to get guests to Lake Petén Itzá below. Julien Capmeil, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Guatemala, Eco-Retreats and Arts Collectives Blend Seamlessly with Tradition," 30 Mar. 2020 Everything, from the guests in the chalet, right through to every scrap of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has to come up in the funicular. David Canfield,, "First look: Ruth Ware is back with another edge-of-your-seat thriller," 16 Apr. 2020 For panoramic views from the remaining castle ramparts, ride the cute funicular up to Castle Hill. Rick Steves, USA TODAY, "The Danube River trifecta: Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest," 28 Nov. 2019 Proceed a block past the Chemosphere address, turn around and look up and you will be treated to an exhilarating glimpse of the spaceship-like house that rests atop a 30-foot-high concrete column and is accessed by a funicular. Lisa Boone, Los Angeles Times, "Four Hours: Brady Bunch house and Mulholland Drive: Studio City architecture tour," 11 Oct. 2019 Ride the funicular to the Col de Balme and hike up to the Croix de Fer pass for incredible views and a chance to slide on the snow. National Geographic, "Swiss and French Alps Expedition: Mountain Adventure," 15 Sep. 2019 The city’s dramatic hills can be climbed on foot or enjoyed via funicular. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "The Best Things to Do in Valparaiso, Chile," 23 July 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for funicular

Time Traveler

The first known use of funicular was in 1823

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Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Funicular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for funicular



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

More from Merriam-Webster on funicular

Britannica English: Translation of funicular for Arabic Speakers

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