- 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- a woman's short cloak with a hood, originally made of scarlet cloth and popularly worn in the 18th century.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 cardinals
The pontiff blasts the selfishness, arrogance and detachment of the cardinals in Rome.Pope Francis Denounces the Vatican Elite’s 'Spiritual Alzheimer’s'
Barbie Latza Nadeau
December 23, 2014
The central issue is de facto immunity traditionally given to bishops and cardinals.How Pope Francis Became the World’s BFF
December 21, 2014
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
But at a consistory of cardinals in Vatican City on Monday, Francis made his case.The Pope’s Risky Trip
Barbie Latza Nadeau
November 21, 2014
He has to contend with much more conservative bishops, archbishops, and cardinals appointed by his two immediate predecessors.Pope Francis Pushes the Church Another Step Further on Gays
October 16, 2014
He was told that the cardinals were not there to receive a challenge to battle.Cameos from English History, from Rollo to Edward II
Charlotte Mary Yonge
He had seen all the cardinals whose influence could be of use to him.The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
I have continually seen there the Princes of the blood and the cardinals.
The first to do so were Cardinals d'Estrees and Portocarrero.
The cardinals relegated the decision of the matter to the Pope.The Life of Cesare Borgia
- 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 cardinals
"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.
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.