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[kuh-loh-nee-uh l] /kəˈloʊ ni əl/
of, concerning, or pertaining to a colony or colonies:
the colonial policies of France.
of, concerning, or pertaining to colonialism; colonialistic.
(often initial capital letter) pertaining to the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America, or to their period.
Ecology. forming a colony.
(initial capital letter) Architecture, Furniture.
  1. noting or pertaining to the styles of architecture, ornament, and furnishings of the British colonies in America in the 17th and 18th centuries, mainly adapted to local materials and demands from prevailing English styles.
  2. noting or pertaining to various imitations of the work of American colonial artisans.
an inhabitant of a colony.
a house in or imitative of the Colonial style.
Origin of colonial
1770-80, Americanism; colony + -al1
Related forms
colonially, adverb
noncolonial, adjective, noun
noncolonially, adverb
procolonial, adjective, noun
semicolonial, adjective
semicolonially, adverb
uncolonial, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for colonial
  • The historic square is home to a variety of architectural styles, from colonial to modern.
  • Australians have been battling nonnative pests with mixed success since colonial days.
  • Desperate appeals began pouring into colonial offices.
  • Interpreters in period dress explain history and demonstrate colonial crafts in their cabins.
  • There's been a lot of colonial exploitation in human history.
  • Equally important is the absoluteness of the old colonial treaties that was imposed by the colonial powers.
  • What has blocked exploration until now has been the confused borders left behind by former colonial powers.
  • The current borders were drawn up by colonial powers.
  • The first is that even medieval universities and colonial colleges were multi-purpose.
  • Our metro stop brought us to the city square, ringed by buildings of various ages, many of which date to the colonial period.
British Dictionary definitions for colonial


of, characteristic of, relating to, possessing, or inhabiting a colony or colonies
(often capital) characteristic of or relating to the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America (1776)
(often capital) of or relating to the colonies of the British Empire
denoting, relating to, or having the style of Neoclassical architecture used in the British colonies in America in the 17th and 18th centuries
of or relating to the period of Australian history before Federation (1901)
(of organisms such as corals and bryozoans) existing as a colony of polyps
(of animals and plants) having become established in a community in a new environment
a native of a colony
Derived Forms
colonially, adverb
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 colonial

1756, from Latin colonia (see colony) + -al (1), or directly from colony on model of baronoinal. Meaning "from or characteristic of America during colonial times" is from 1776. The noun meaning "inhabitant of a colony" is recorded from 1865.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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