Thesaurus

cardinal

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of cardinal

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About cardinal

How is the word cardinal different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of cardinal are essential, fundamental, and vital. While all these words mean "so important as to be indispensable," cardinal suggests something on which an outcome turns or depends.

a cardinal rule in buying a home

Where would essential be a reasonable alternative to cardinal?

The meanings of essential and cardinal largely overlap; however, essential implies belonging to the very nature of a thing and therefore being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character.

conflict is essential in drama

When could fundamental be used to replace cardinal?

The words fundamental and cardinal are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, fundamental applies to something that is a foundation without which an entire system or complex whole would collapse.

fundamental principles of algebra

When is vital a more appropriate choice than cardinal?

While in some cases nearly identical to cardinal, vital suggests something that is necessary to a thing's continued existence or operation.

cut off from vital supplies

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cardinal

Time Traveler for cardinal

Time Traveler

The first known use of cardinal was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Cardinal.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/cardinal. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cardinal

Dictionary: Definition of cardinal

Nglish: Translation of cardinal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cardinal for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cardinal

Comments on cardinal

What made you want to look up cardinal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!