[uhn-shee-uhl, -shuhl]
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

uncially, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To uncial
World English Dictionary
uncial (ˈʌnsɪəl)
1.  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
2.  pertaining to an inch or an ounce
3.  pertaining to the duodecimal system
4.  an uncial letter or manuscript
[C17: from Late Latin unciāles litterae letters an inch long, from Latin unciālis, from uncia one twelfth, inch, ounce1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1650, "pertaining to an ounce," from L. uncialis "of an inch, of an ounce," from uncia "a twelfth part" (see inch). In ref. to letters, it is attested from 1712, from L.L. litteræ unciales (Jerome), probably meaning "letters an inch high," from L. uncialis "of an inch, inch-high."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


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

Learn more about uncial with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences for uncial
In the second and third centuries the uncial lettering style developed.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature