[biz-uh n-teen, -tahyn, bahy-zuh n-, bih-zan-tin]
See more synonyms for Byzantine on
  1. of or relating to Byzantium.
  2. of or relating to the Byzantine Empire.
  3. noting or pertaining to the architecture of the Byzantine Empire and to architecture influenced by or imitating it: characterized by masonry construction, round arches, impost blocks, low domes on pendentives, the presence of fine, spiky foliage patterns in low relief on stone capitals and moldings, and the use of frescoes, mosaics, and revetments of fine stone to cover whole interiors.
  4. Fine Arts. pertaining to or designating the style of the fine or decorative arts developed and elaborated in the Byzantine Empire and its provinces: characterized chiefly by an ecclesiastically prescribed iconography, highly formal structure, severe confinement of pictorial space to a shallow depth, and the use of rich, often sumptuous color.
  5. (sometimes lowercase) complex or intricate: a deal requiring Byzantine financing.
  6. (sometimes lowercase) characterized by elaborate scheming and intrigue, especially for the gaining of political power or favor: Byzantine methods for holding on to his chairmanship.
  7. of or relating to the Byzantine Church.
  1. a native or inhabitant of Byzantium.

Origin of Byzantine

1590–1600; < Late Latin Bȳzantīnus of Byzantium; see -ine1
Related formspre-Byz·an·tine, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for byzantine


  1. of, characteristic of, or relating to Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire
  2. of, relating to, or characterizing the Orthodox Church or its rites and liturgy
  3. of or relating to the highly coloured stylized form of religious art developed in the Byzantine Empire
  4. of or relating to the style of architecture developed in the Byzantine Empire, characterized by massive domes with square bases, rounded arches, spires and minarets, and the extensive use of mosaics
  5. denoting the Medieval Greek spoken in the Byzantine Empire
  6. (of attitudes, etc) inflexible or complicated
  1. an inhabitant of Byzantium
Derived FormsByzantinism (bɪˈzæntaɪˌnɪzəm, -tiː, baɪ-, ˈbɪzəntiːˌnɪzəm, -taɪ-), noun
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 byzantine



1770, from Latin Byzantinus (see Byzantium); originally used of art style; later in reference to the complex, devious, and intriguing character of the royal court of Constantinople (1937). As a noun from 1770.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper