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[kuh-thee-druh l] /kəˈθi drəl/
the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's throne.
(in nonepiscopal denominations) any of various important churches.
pertaining to or containing a bishop's throne.
pertaining to or emanating from a chair of office or authority.
Origin of cathedral
1250-1300; Middle English < Late Latin cathedrālis (ecclesia) a cathedral (church). See cathedra, -al1
Related forms
cathedrallike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cathedral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Bishop's Palace is close to the Wye, on the south side of the cathedral.

  • It was at her right hand, in the second story of a house at the side of the cathedral.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • Some banners that adorned it remained in the cathedral till 1586.

  • The 'bus was now rolling over London Bridge, and the cathedral could not be seen.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • It was stated that at the cathedral the civic procession “passed along the rush-strewed pavement into the choir.”

    Norfolk Annals Charles Mackie
British Dictionary definitions for cathedral


  1. the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's official throne
  2. (as modifier): a cathedral city, cathedral clergy
Word Origin
C13: from Late Latin (ecclesia) cathedrālis cathedral (church), from cathedra bishop's throne, from Greek kathedra seat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cathedral

1580s, "church of a bishop," from phrase cathedral church (c.1300), partially translating Late Latin ecclesia cathedralis "church of a bishop's seat," from Latin cathedra "an easy chair (principally used by ladies)," also metonymically, e.g. cathedrae molles "luxurious women;" also "a professor's chair;" from Greek kathedra "seat, bench," from kata "down" (see cata-) + hedra "seat, base, chair, face of a geometric solid," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).

It was born an adjective, and attempts to cobble further adjectivization onto it in 17c. yielded cathedraical (1670s), cathedratic (1660s), cathedratical (1660s), after which the effort seems to have been given up.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cathedral in Culture

cathedral definition

A Christian church building in which a bishop has his official seat (cathedra is Latin for “chair”). A cathedral is usually large and imposing, and many cathedrals are important in the history of architecture. (See Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, and Saint Paul's Cathedral.)

cathedral definition

A church building in which a Christian bishop has his official seat; cathedra is Latin for “chair.” Cathedrals are usually large and imposing, and many have been important in the development of architecture. The building of a cathedral, especially in the Middle Ages, was a project in which the entire town took part. (See Chartres; Notre Dame de Paris; and Saint Paul's Cathedral.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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