: an ancient Greek coin or weight equal to ¹/₆ drachma

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The tomb was respectfully furnished with worldly goods such as baskets, perfume bottles, clothing, ceramic urns, vessels containing grains and nuts, and Charon’s obol, a coin placed in the mouth or near the body of the dead to ensure safe passage to the Underworld. Franz Lidz, New York Times, 25 Mar. 2023 Charon’s obol is a term for a coin, typically placed in the mouth of a dead person before burial. Fox News, 30 June 2020 The coins are called obols of the dead or Charon’s obol. Fox News, 30 June 2020

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

Word History


borrowed from Latin obolus, borrowed from Greek obolós, obelós — more at obelus

Note: The word is attested once in Old English, but there is no continuity between this occurrence and later learned use in Modern English.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of obol was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near obol

Cite this Entry

“Obol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obol. Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

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