- of prime importance; chief; principal: of cardinal significance.
- of the color cardinal.
- Roman Catholic Church. a high ecclesiastic appointed by the pope to the College of Cardinals and ranking above every other ecclesiastic but the pope.
- Also called cardinal grosbeak. a crested grosbeak, Cardinalis cardinalis, of North America, the male of which is bright red.
- any of various similar birds.
- a deep, rich red color.
- a woman's short cloak with a hood, originally made of scarlet cloth and popularly worn in the 18th century.
- cardinal number.
Origin of cardinal
Examples from the Web for cardinal
“Light trumps darkness, hope beats despair, grace wins over sin, love defeats hate, life conquers death,” the cardinal said.'Please Don't Die!': The Frantic Battle to Save Murdered Cops
December 22, 2014
Elisabetta Piqué, who knew Bergoglio well as a cardinal, writes in the present tense as if to convey real time passing.
And yet, a dossier of allegations involving human rights could not help any cardinal at a moment like that.
The cardinals had such a bad reputation that the very term “cardinal” became an insult in Renaissance Rome.Great Renaissance Art Thrived Amid Filth
December 3, 2014
Perhaps, as one cardinal recently complained, the chaos is the plan.Is Pope Francis Backpedaling on Gays?
November 19, 2014
He had seen his uncle present himself to the Cardinal at Cawood Castle.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
Cardinal Newman wrote: "Gladstone's book, as you see, is making a sensation."The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
Art surely no mere clerk, but bishop or cardinal at the least.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
Unlike Shakespeare's cardinal, they did not die without a sign.The Works of Whittier, Volume VI (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
We spend years upon the study of character, and the cardinal features often escape us.The Hunted Outlaw
- RC Church any of the members of the Sacred College, ranking next after the pope, who elect the pope and act as his chief counsellors
- Also called: cardinal red a deep vivid red colour
- See cardinal number
- Also called: cardinal grosbeak, (US) redbird a crested North American bunting, Richmondena (or Pyrrhuloxia) cardinalis, the male of which has a bright red plumage and the female a brown one
- a fritillary butterfly, Pandoriana pandora, found in meadows of southern Europe
- a woman's hooded shoulder cape worn in the 17th and 18th centuries
Word Origin and History for cardinal
early 12c., "one of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the sacred college" (short for cardinalis ecclesiae Romanae or episcopus cardinalis), from Latin cardinalis "principal, chief, essential" (see cardinal (adj.)).
Ecclesiastical use began for the presbyters of the chief (cardinal) churches of Rome. The North American songbird (Cardinalis virginianus) is attested from 1670s, so named for its resemblance to the cardinals in their red robes.
"chief, pivotal," early 14c., from Latin cardinalis "principal, chief, essential," from cardo (genitive cardinis) "that on which something turns or depends; pole of the sky," originally "door hinge," of unknown origin. Related: Cardinally.
The cardinal points (1540s) are north, south, east, west. The cardinal sins (c.1600) are too well known to require rehearsal. The cardinal virtues (c.1300) were divided into natural (justice prudence, temperance, fortitude) and theological (faith, hope, charity). The natural ones were the original classical ones, which were amended by Christians. But typically in Middle English only the first four were counted as the cardinal virtues:
Of þe uour uirtues cardinales spekeþ moche þe yealde philosofes. ["Ayenbite of Inwyt," c.1340]
By analogy of this, and cardinal points, cardinal winds, cardinal signs (four zodiacal signs marking the equinoxes and the solstices), the adjective in Middle English acquired an association with the number four.