of prime importance; chief; principal: of cardinal significance.
of the color cardinal.
Roman Catholic Church. a high ecclesiastic appointed by the pope to the College of Cardinals and ranking above every other ecclesiastic but the pope.
Also called cardinal grosbeak. a crested grosbeak, Cardinalis cardinalis, of North America, the male of which is bright red.
any of various similar birds.
a deep, rich red color.
a woman's short cloak with a hood, originally made of scarlet cloth and popularly worn in the 18th century.

before 1150; Middle English, Old English < Latin cardinālis, equivalent to cardin- (stem of cardō) hinge, hence, something on which other things hinge + -ālis -al1

cardinally, adverb
cardinalship, noun
intercardinal, adjective
postcardinal, adjective
subcardinal, adjective
subcardinally, adverb
uncardinally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To intercardinal
World English Dictionary
cardinal (ˈkɑːdɪnəl)
1.  RC Church any of the members of the Sacred College, ranking next after the pope, who elect the pope and act as his chief counsellors
2.  Also called: cardinal red a deep vivid red colour
3.  See cardinal number
4.  cardinal grosbeak, Also called: redbird a crested North American bunting, Richmondena (or Pyrrhuloxia) cardinalis, the male of which has a bright red plumage and the female a brown one
5.  a fritillary butterfly, Pandoriana pandora, found in meadows of southern Europe
6.  a woman's hooded shoulder cape worn in the 17th and 18th centuries
7.  (usually prenominal) fundamentally important; principal: cardinal sin
8.  of a deep vivid red colour
9.  astrology mutable Compare fixed of or relating to the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn
[C13: from Latin cardinālis, literally: relating to a hinge, hence, that on which something depends, principal, from cardō hinge]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 12c., "one of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the sacred college," from L. cardinalis "principal, chief, essential," from cardo (gen. cardinis) "that on which something turns or depends," originally "door hinge." Ecclesiastical use began for the presbyters of the chief (cardinal) churches
of Rome. The adj. sense of "chief, principal" in English is attested from mid-15c. Cardinal points (1540s) are "north, south, east, west." The cardinal virtues (c.1300) were divided into natural (justice prudence, temperance, fortitude) and theological (faith, hope, charity). The N.Amer. songbird (Cardinalis virginianus) is attested from 1670s, so named for its resemblance to the red robes of the cardinals.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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