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[uhn-shee-uh l, -shuh l] /ˈʌn ʃi əl, -ʃəl/
designating, written in, or pertaining to a form of majuscule writing having a curved or rounded shape and used chiefly in Greek and Latin manuscripts from about the 3rd to the 9th century a.d.
an uncial letter.
uncial writing.
a manuscript written in uncials.
1640-50; < Late Latin unciālēs (litterae) (Jerome) uncial (letters), plural of Latin unciālis weighing one twelfth of a libra (see uncia, -al1); literal sense is unclear
Related forms
uncially, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for uncial
  • In the second and third centuries the uncial lettering style developed.
British Dictionary definitions for uncial


of, relating to, or written in majuscule letters, as used in Greek and Latin manuscripts of the third to ninth centuries, that resemble modern capitals, but are characterized by much greater curvature and inclination and general inequality of height
pertaining to an inch or an ounce
pertaining to the duodecimal system
an uncial letter or manuscript
Derived Forms
uncially, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin unciāles litterae letters an inch long, from Latin unciālis, from uncia one twelfth, inch, ounce1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for uncial

1640s, "pertaining to an ounce," from Latin uncialis "of an inch, of an ounce," from uncia "a twelfth part" (see inch). In reference to letters, it is attested from 1712, from Late Latin litterae unciales (Jerome), probably meaning "letters an inch high," from Latin uncialis "of an inch, inch-high."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for uncial

in calligraphy, ancient majuscular book hand characterized by simple, rounded strokes. It apparently originated in the 2nd century AD when the codex form of book developed along with the growing use of parchment and vellum as writing surfaces. Unlike its prototype square roman, uncial is adapted to direct strokes of the pen held in one position and was thus the natural favourite of scribes; most of the works of Latin literature for more than 500 years were copied in this hand

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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