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[ob-uh-lisk] /ˈɒb ə lɪsk/
a tapering, four-sided shaft of stone, usually monolithic and having a pyramidal apex.
something resembling such a shaft.
an obelus.
Printing. dagger (def 2).
Origin of obelisk
1540-50; < Latin obeliscus < Greek obelískos small spit, equivalent to obel(ós) spit, pointed pillar + -iskos diminutive suffix
Related forms
obeliscal, adjective
obeliskoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for obelisk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When completed with the obelisk inside, the vessel will be about ninety-five feet in length and fifteen feet across.

  • It would be harder to get rid of than the obelisk or the Vendôme column!

    A Royal Prisoner Pierre Souvestre
  • It is a very large place; in the centre of it stands an obelisk, which is four thousand years old.

    The Sand-Hills of Jutland Hans Christian Andersen
  • obelisk, tower, land, or anything for directing the course by sight.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • At some distance on each side of the obelisk are two fountains, whose waters form a perpetual and abundant cascade.

  • He came to the obelisk, and leaned against it, overcome by a spasm of realisation.

    Saint's Progress John Galsworthy
  • This suggestion was soon spread abroad and it was estimated that for $60,000 the obelisk could be removed.

    The New York Obelisk Charles E. Moldenke
  • It had formerly a watch-house at each corner, as well as the obelisk in the centre.

    Holborn and Bloomsbury Sir Walter Besant
British Dictionary definitions for obelisk


a stone pillar having a square or rectangular cross section and sides that taper towards a pyramidal top, often used as a monument in ancient Egypt
(printing) another name for dagger (sense 2)
Derived Forms
obeliscal, adjective
obeliskoid, adjective
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek obeliskos a little spit, from obelos spit
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 obelisk

"rectangular stone column tapering at the top," 1560s, from Middle French obélisque (16c.) and directly from Latin obeliscus "obelisk, small spit," from Greek obeliskos "small spit, obelisk, leg of a compass," diminutive of obelos "a spit, pointed pillar, needle." Related: Obeliskine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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