[ buh-sil-i-kuh, -zil- ]
See synonyms for basilica on
  1. an early Christian or medieval church of the type built especially in Italy, characterized by a plan including a nave, two or four side aisles, a semicircular apse, a narthex, and often other features, as a short transept, a number of small semicircular apses terminating the aisles, or an atrium. The interior is characterized by strong horizontality, with little or no attempt at rhythmic accents. All spaces are usually covered with timber roofs or ceilings except for the apse or apses, which are vaulted.

  2. one of the seven main churches of Rome or another Roman Catholic church accorded the same religious privileges.

  1. (in ancient Rome) a large oblong building used as a hall of justice and public meeting place.

Origin of basilica

1535–45; <Latin <Greek basilikḗ hall, short for basilikḗ oikía royal house. See basilic

Words Nearby basilica Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use basilica in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for basilica


/ (bəˈzɪlɪkə) /

  1. a Roman building, used for public administration, having a large rectangular central nave with an aisle on each side and an apse at the end

  2. a rectangular early Christian or medieval church, usually having a nave with clerestories, two or four aisles, one or more vaulted apses, and a timber roof

  1. a Roman Catholic church having special ceremonial rights

Origin of basilica

C16: from Latin, from Greek basilikē hall, from basilikē oikia the king's house, from basileus king; see basil

Derived forms of basilica

  • basilican or basilic, adjective

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

Cultural definitions for basilica


[ (buh-sil-uh-kuh) ]

A large Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church building. A basilica is built with several parallel aisles separated by rows of columns, ending in a semicircular structure, the apse. Saint Peter's Basilica is the church of the Vatican in Rome.

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.