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 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 For those who want to get their blood pumping after a long flight, there’s the 45-minute moderate hike to the top of the hill (a funicular ride is also available). Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "The Best Things to Do in Santiago, Chile," 20 Sep. 2019 Between May and November, stop off at the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe visitors center, where a funicular shuttles passengers to an overlook of the colossal Pasterze Glacier. National Geographic, "Here are 10 of the world’s most spectacular road trips," 13 Sep. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Funicular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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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

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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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