[ kahr-dn-l ]
/ ˈkɑr dn l /


of prime importance; chief; principal: of cardinal significance.
of the color cardinal.


Origin of cardinal

before 1150; Middle English, Old English < Latin cardinālis, equivalent to cardin- (stem of cardō) hinge, hence, something on which other things hinge + -ālis -al1

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cardinals

British Dictionary definitions for cardinals


/ (ˈkɑːdɪnəl) /



Derived Forms

cardinally, adverb

Word Origin for cardinal

C13: from Latin cardinālis, literally: relating to a hinge, hence, that on which something depends, principal, from cardō hinge
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

Culture definitions for cardinals


A group of prominent bishops of the Roman Catholic Church who advise the pope and elect new popes.

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.