[ kal-vuh-ree ]
/ ˈkæl və ri /
Save This Word!

noun, plural Cal·va·ries for 2, 3.
Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. Luke 23:33.
(often lowercase) a sculptured representation of the Crucifixion, usually erected in the open air.
(lowercase) an experience or occasion of extreme suffering, especially mental suffering.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of Calvary

First recorded before 1000; from Late Latin Calvāria “Calvary,” from Latin calvāria “a skull,” used to translate Greek kraníon cranium, itself a translation of the Aramaic name; see Golgotha

how to pronounce Calvary

historical usage of Calvary

The proper name Calvary, originally spelled caluarie, entered Old English about 1000 a.d. in, unsurprisingly, a translation of the Gospel of St. Luke (23:33). Caluarie comes directly from Late Latin Calvāriae (locum) “(place) of the skull,” a translation of Greek (tòn tópon tòn kaloúmenon) Kraníon “(the place called) Skull.” Kraníon is the Greek translation of Aramaic gulgalthā “the skull,” akin to Hebrew gulgōleth (Greek transliterates the Aramaic and Hebrew forms as golgothá “Golgotha”).
Nearly everything about Golgotha is uncertain, including its exact location. As to the reason the Hebrew and Aramaic languages name the place “skull”: it may have been a place for public executions where the skulls of those executed were left to be seen; it may be named for a nearby cemetery; or it may be named for its shape (in Virginia and North Carolina, a rounded, treeless mountaintop is called a “bald”).


Calvary , cavalry
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use Calvary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Calvary (1 of 2)

/ (ˈkælvərɪ) /

noun plural -ries
(often capital) a representation of Christ's crucifixion, usually sculptured and in the open air
any experience involving great suffering

British Dictionary definitions for Calvary (2 of 2)

/ (ˈkælvərɪ) /

the place just outside the walls of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucifiedAlso called: Golgotha

Word Origin for Calvary

from Late Latin Calvāria, translation of Greek kranion skull, translation of Aramaic gulgulta Golgotha
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 Calvary


The hill near Jerusalem (see also Jerusalem) on which Jesus was crucified. The name is Latin for “Place of the Skull”; it is also called Golgotha. (See Crucifixion.)

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.