[kath-uh-lik, kath-lik]
See more synonyms for catholic on
  1. broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal.
  2. universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all.
  3. pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.

Origin of catholic

1300–1350; Middle English < Latin catholicus < Greek katholikós general, equivalent to kathól(ou) universally (contraction of phrase katà hólou according to the whole; see cata-, holo-) + -ikos -ic
Related formsca·thol·i·cal·ly, ca·thol·ic·ly [kuh-thol-ik-lee] /kəˈθɒl ɪk li/, adverbca·thol·i·cal·ness, cath·o·lic·ness, nounpseu·do·ca·thol·i·cal·ly, adverbsu·per·cath·o·lic, adjectivesu·per·ca·thol·i·cal·ly, adverbun·cath·o·lic, adjective


[kath-uh-lik, kath-lik]
  1. of or relating to a Catholic church, especially the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. Theology.
    1. (among Roman Catholics) claiming to possess exclusively the notes or characteristics of the one, only, true, and universal church having unity, visibility, indefectibility, apostolic succession, universality, and sanctity: used in this sense, with these qualifications, only by the Church of Rome, as applicable only to itself and its adherents and to their faith and organization; often qualified, especially by those not acknowledging these claims, by prefixing the word Roman.
    2. (among Anglo-Catholics) noting or pertaining to the conception of the church as the body representing the ancient undivided Christian witness, comprising all the orthodox churches that have kept the apostolic succession of bishops, and including the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of Sweden, the Old Catholic Church (in the Netherlands and elsewhere), etc.
  3. pertaining to the Western Church.
  1. a member of a Catholic church, especially of the Roman Catholic Church.

Origin of Catholic

1300–50; Middle English; special uses of catholic
Related formsan·ti-Cath·o·lic, adjective, nounnon-Cath·o·lic, adjective, nounpro-Cath·o·lic, adjective, nounpseu·do-Cath·o·lic, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for catholic


  1. universal; relating to all men; all-inclusive
  2. comprehensive in interests, tastes, etc; broad-minded; liberal
Derived Formscatholically or catholicly (kəˈθɒlɪklɪ), adverb

Word Origin for catholic

C14: from Latin catholicus, from Greek katholikos universal, from katholou in general, from kata- according to + holos whole


adjective Christianity
  1. denoting or relating to the entire body of Christians, esp to the Church before separation into the Greek or Eastern and Latin or Western Churches
  2. denoting or relating to the Latin or Western Church after this separation
  3. denoting or relating to the Roman Catholic Church
  4. denoting or relating to any church, belief, etc, that claims continuity with or originates in the ancient undivided Church
  1. a member of any of the Churches regarded as Catholic, esp the Roman Catholic Church
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 catholic

mid-14c., "of the doctrines of the ancient Church," literally "universally accepted," from French catholique, from Church Latin catholicus "universal, general," from Greek katholikos, from phrase kath' holou "on the whole, in general," from kata "about" + genitive of holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)). Applied to the Church in Rome c.1554, after the Reformation began. General sense of "of interest to all, universal" is from 1550s.



"member of the Roman Catholic church," 1560s, from Catholic (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper