zig·​gu·​rat ˈzi-gə-ˌrat How to pronounce ziggurat (audio)
: an ancient Mesopotamian temple tower consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in successive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the top
also : a structure or object of similar form

Illustration of ziggurat

Illustration of ziggurat

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François Lenormant and Ziggurat

French professor of archaeology Francois Lenormant spent a great deal of time poring over ancient Assyrian texts. In those cuneiform inscriptions, he recognized a new language, now known as Akkadian, which proved valuable to the understanding of the ancient civilization. Through his studies, he became familiar with the Akkadian word for the towering temples: ziqqurratu, which was translated into English as ziggurat.

Examples of ziggurat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The first day, for a scene set in a corporate ziggurat, Scott looked through the lens and saw that the building’s columns had been installed upside down. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 In this spirit, Francis convened an interfaith prayer service on March 6 near the dramatic ocher ziggurat of Ur. Victor Gaetan, Foreign Affairs, 12 Mar. 2021 That geography is part of why the actual Biosphere 2 building looks so striking: Two ziggurats made of tessellated glass triangles are connected by a long, glass rectangular structure. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 10 July 2023 There were hardly any windows on this slate-gray apparition on the Upper East Side that looked like an upside-down ziggurat dropped from the sky. Requiem For A Museum, Curbed, 1 June 2023 Later in the day, the pope met with Iraqi religious leaders in the shadow of a symbol of the country's ancient past — the 6,000-year-old ziggurat in the Plains of Ur, also the traditional birthplace of Abraham, the biblical patriarch revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Nicole Winfield and Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Star Tribune, 6 Mar. 2021 And then there’s the ziggurat, designed by Davis Brody in 1969 as 450 West 33rd Street, then reborn and redubbed Five Manhattan West a few years ago when the architecture firm REX stripped, gutted, and dressed the beast up in vitreous ripples and zapped it into a tech center. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 30 Sep. 2021 Pereira designed buildings for a number of defense companies, including Beckman Instruments, Ford’s Aeronutronic Systems and North American Rockwell — the last, an absurdly monumental ziggurat in Laguna Niguel that, for whatever reason, is now painted an unsympathetic shade of yellow. Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2022 In Iraq's south, Francis convened a meeting of Iraqi religious leaders in the deserts near a symbol of the country’s ancient past — the 6,000-year-old ziggurat in the Plains of Ur, also thought to be the birthplace of Abraham, the biblical patriarch revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Fox News, 8 Mar. 2021

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

Word History


Akkadian ziqqurratu

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ziggurat was in 1874


Dictionary Entries Near ziggurat

Cite this Entry

“Ziggurat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ziggurat. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

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