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[kol-uh-see-uh m]
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  1. an ancient amphitheater in Rome, begun a.d. c70 by Vespasian, having the form of an oval 617 by 512 feet (188 by 156 meters).
  2. (lowercase) coliseum.

Origin of Colosseum

< Latin, noun use of neuter of colossēus gigantic < Greek kolossiaîos, equivalent to koloss(ós) colossus + -iaios adj. suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for colosseum

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The largest of these amphitheaters was the Colosseum, the ruins of which still exist.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • A circus or theatre of our day is a toy compared to the Colosseum.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • The Colosseum will not suffer its likeness to be taken by every one; it is a favour that must be fought for.


    Maurus Jokai

  • This view of the Colosseum reminds me of one I saw at the Rossis'.


    Maurus Jokai

  • "You succeeded with the Colosseum," was Blanka's encouraging rejoinder.


    Maurus Jokai

British Dictionary definitions for colosseum


  1. a variant spelling of coliseum


  1. an amphitheatre in Rome built about 75–80 ad
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

Word Origin and History for colosseum



1560s, Medieval Latin name for the classical Amphitheatrum Flavium (begun c.70 C.E.), noun use of neuter of adjective colosseus "gigantic;" perhaps a reference to the colossal statue of Nero that long stood nearby (see colossus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

colosseum in Culture


A great arena of ancient Rome, which seated fifty thousand. It is in ruins today, but its former glory can still be imagined.


Some of the contests staged in the Colosseum were between gladiators, who fought with swords; some were between people and animals. The arena could even be flooded for mock sea battles.


According to tradition, persecuted Christians (see also Christian) were fed to lions in the Colosseum for the entertainment of the Romans. (See also bread and circuses.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.