zig·​gu·​rat | \ ˈzi-gə-ˌrat How to pronounce ziggurat (audio) \

Definition of ziggurat

: 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

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 Cream colored, four-story ziggurat shaped buildings at the marina look out at ample sea views and sunsets. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 29 May 2022 The winding roads around that development — with street names like Serene Way and Jubilant Way — lead to several towering Buddhist shrines, retreat centers and a spiral ziggurat commissioned in the 1970s by the father of Jordan’s Queen Noor. New York Times, 18 May 2022 The ziggurat tower-city is finished but ominously quiet. Jenny Uglow, The New York Review of Books, 21 Oct. 2021 Most dramatic was the ziggurat, which is some 85 feet tall and once stood at least twice as high. Leon Mccarron, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Jan. 2022 The concrete ziggurat at 33rd and Tenth Avenue had the look of a place designed to muffle screams from deep inside. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 30 Sep. 2021 Weeks or months later, your Todoist app is a teetering ziggurat of tasks, too painful even to behold. Clive Thompson, Wired, 27 July 2021 But the renovation around 2450 B.C. covered this communal space with earthen terraces, transforming the dome into a six-story ziggurat, or stepped pyramid. Bridget Alex, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 June 2021 In the children scaling the ziggurat, indulging concrete’s imaginative possibilities. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ziggurat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ziggurat

1874, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ziggurat

Akkadian ziqqurratu

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The first known use of ziggurat was in 1874

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Cite this Entry

“Ziggurat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ziggurat. Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ziggurat

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ziggurat


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