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[me-truh-pol-i-tn] /ˌmɛ trəˈpɒl ɪ tn/
of, noting, or characteristic of a metropolis or its inhabitants, especially in culture, sophistication, or in accepting and combining a wide variety of people, ideas, etc.
of or relating to a large city, its surrounding suburbs, and other neighboring communities:
the New York metropolitan area.
pertaining to or constituting a mother country.
pertaining to an ecclesiastical metropolis.
an inhabitant of a metropolis.
a person who has the sophistication, fashionable taste, or other habits and manners associated with those who live in a metropolis.
Eastern Church. the head of an ecclesiastical province.
an archbishop in the Church of England.
Roman Catholic Church. an archbishop who has authority over one or more suffragan sees.
(in ancient Greece) a citizen of the mother city or parent state of a colony.
Origin of metropolitan
1300-50; Middle English < Late Latin mētropolītānus of, belonging to a metropolis < Greek mētropolī́t(ēs) (see metropolis, -ite1) + Latin -ānus -an
Related forms
metropolitanism, noun
intermetropolitan, adjective
nonmetropolitan, adjective, noun
supermetropolitan, adjective
unmetropolitan, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for metropolitan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She seemed paler and thinner, he thought,—the result; probably, of her metropolitan gayeties.

    Rose O' the River Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • So Paul got on to the metropolitan railway and alighted at the Temple Station.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • The twenty-eight remaining divisions are the metropolitan Boroughs.

  • What a blessing to the metropolitan poor is described in this single fact!

    Lives of the Engineers Samuel Smiles
  • Dawson tells me that at the metropolitan National they average one clerk to two hundred and forty-two accounts.

    H. R. Edwin Lefevre
British Dictionary definitions for metropolitan


of or characteristic of a metropolis
constituting a city and its suburbs: the metropolitan area
of, relating to, or designating an ecclesiastical metropolis
of or belonging to the home territories of a country, as opposed to overseas territories: metropolitan France
  1. (Eastern Churches) the head of an ecclesiastical province, ranking between archbishop and patriarch
  2. (Church of England) an archbishop
  3. (RC Church) an archbishop or bishop having authority in certain matters over the dioceses in his province
Derived Forms
metropolitanism, noun
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 metropolitan

early 15c., "bishop having oversight of other bishops," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolis "mother city" (from which others have been colonized), also "capital city," from meter "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + polis "city" (see polis).

In Greek, "parent state of a colony;" later, "see of a metropolitan bishop." In the West, the position now roughly corresponds to archbishop, but in the Greek church it ranks above it.


1540s, "belonging to an ecclesiastical metropolis," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolites "resident of a city," from metropolis (see metropolitan (n.)). Meaning "belonging to a chief or capital city" is from 1550s. In reference to underground city railways, it is attested from 1867.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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