Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of cardinal
Meaning of cardinal by Wiktionary Dictionary



    From French cardinal, from Latin cardinalis ( “pertaining to a hinge, hence applied to that on which something turns or depends, important, principal, chief” ), from cardo ( “hinge” ) + -alis ( “adjectival suffix” ) .


    • ( UK ) IPA: /ˈkɑː.dɪ.nəl/, X-SAMPA: /"kA:.dI.n@l/
    • ( US ): IPA: /ˈkɑɹdɪnəl/


    cardinal ( comparative more cardinal, superlative most cardinal )

    1. Of fundamental importance; crucial, pivotal .
      a cardinal rule
      a cardinal direction
    2. ( nautical ) Of or relating to the cardinal directions ( north, south, east and west ) .
      a cardinal mark
    3. Describing a "natural" number used to indicate quantity ( e.g., one, two, three ), as opposed to an ordinal number indicating relative position .
    4. Having a bright red color ( from the color of a Catholic cardinal's cassock ) .


    cardinal ( plural: cardinals )

    1. A number indicating quantity, or the size of a set, e.g., one, two, three. ( See Wikipedia article on Cardinal number. )
      The commonest numerals in Latin, as in English, are the "cardinals"...and the "ordinals"... — F. M. Wheelock, Wheelock’s Latin, 6th ed. revised ( 2005 ), p97
    2. An official in the Catholic Church, ranking only below the Pope and the patriarchs. ( See Wikipedia article on Catholic cardinals. )
    3. A songbird of the finch family, Cardinalis cardinalis .
    4. Any of various related passerine birds of the family Cardinalidae. ( See Wikipedia article on cardinal birds. )
    5. A shade of scarlet associated with the colour of a Catholic cardinal's cassock .
      cardinal colour:

    See also

    • ( reds ) red; blood red, brick red, burgundy, cardinal, carmine, carnation, cerise, cherry, cherry red, Chinese red, cinnabar, claret, crimson, damask, fire brick, fire engine red, flame, flamingo, fuchsia, garnet, geranium, gules, hot pink, incarnadine, Indian red, magenta, maroon, misty rose, nacarat, oxblood, pillar-box red, pink, Pompeian red, poppy, raspberry, red violet, rose, rouge, ruby, ruddy, salmon, sanguine, scarlet, shocking pink, stammel, strawberry, Turkey red, venetian red, vermillion, vinaceous, vinous, violet red, wine ( Category: en:Reds )
    • Contrast with ordinal ( numbers )


    • Clarinda

Definition of cardinal by GCIDE Dictionary


  1. Cardinal a. [L. cardinalis, fr. cardo the hinge of a door, that on which a thing turns or depends: cf. F. cardinal.] Of fundamental importance; preëminent; superior; chief; principal.

    The cardinal intersections of the zodiac. Sir T. Browne.

    Impudence is now a cardinal virtue. Drayton.

    But cardinal sins, and hollow hearts, I fear ye. Shak.

    Cardinal numbers, the numbers one, two, three, etc., in distinction from first, second, third, etc., which are called ordinal numbers. -- Cardinal points ( Geol. ) The four principal points of the compass, or intersections of the horizon with the meridian and the prime vertical circle, north, south east, and west. ( Astrol. ) The rising and setting of the sun, the zenith and nadir. -- Cardinal signs ( Astron. ) Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn. -- Cardinal teeth ( Zool. ), the central teeth of bivalve shell. See Bivalve. -- Cardinal veins ( Anat. ), the veins in vertebrate embryos, which run each side of the vertebral column and returm the blood to the heart. They remain through life in some fishes. -- Cardinal virtues, preëminent virtues; among the ancients, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. -- Cardinal winds, winds which blow from the cardinal points due north, south, east, or west.

  2. Cardinal, n. [F. carinal, It. cardinale, LL. cardinalis ( ecclesiæ Romanæ ). See Cardinal, a.]
    1. ( R. C. Ch. ) One of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the pope's council, or the sacred college.

    The clerics of the supreme Chair are called Cardinals, as undoubtedly adhering more nearly to the hinge by which all things are moved. Pope Leo IX.

    ☞ The cardinals are appointed by the pope. Since the time of Sixtus V., their number can never exceed seventy ( six of episcopal rank, fifty priests, fourteen deacons ), and the number of cardinal priests and deacons is seldom full. When the papel chair is vacant a pope is elected by the college of cardinals from among themselves. The cardinals take precedence of all dignitaries except the pope. The principal parts of a cardinal's costume are a red cassock, a rochet, a short purple mantle, and a red hat with a small crown and broad brim, with cords and tessels of a special pattern hanging from it.

    2. A woman's short cloak with a hood.

    Where's your cardinal! Make haste. Lloyd.

    3. Mulled red wine. Hotten.

    4. the cardinal bird, also called the northern cardinal.

    Cardinal bird, or Cardinal grosbeak ( Zool. ), an American song bird ( Cardinalis cardinalis, or Cardinalis Virginianus ), of the family Fringillidæ, or finches of which the male has a bright red plumage, and both sexes have a high, pointed crest on its head; -- it is also called the northern cardinal or eastern cardinal. The males have loud and musical notes resembling those of a fife. Other related species are also called cardinal birds. -- Cardinal flower ( Bot. ), an herbaceous plant ( Lobelia cardinalis ) bearing brilliant red flowers of much beauty. -- Cardinal red, a color like that of a cardinal's cassock, hat, etc.; a bright red, darker than scarlet, and between scarlet and crimson.