[ kath-uh-lik, kath-lik ]
See 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.

  1. pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.

Origin of catholic

First recorded in 1300–1350; Middle English, from Latin catholicus, from Greek katholikós “general,” from kathól(ou) “universally” (contraction of phrase katà hólou “according to the whole”; see cata-, holo-) + -ikos -ic

Other words from catholic

  • ca·thol·i·cal·ly, ca·thol·ic·ly [kuh-thol-ik-lee], /kəˈθɒl ɪk li/, adverb
  • ca·thol·i·cal·ness, cath·o·lic·ness, noun
  • pseu·do·ca·thol·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • su·per·cath·o·lic, adjective
  • su·per·ca·thol·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • un·cath·o·lic, adjective

Other definitions for Catholic (2 of 2)

[ kath-uh-lik, kath-lik ]

  1. of or relating to a Catholic church, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

  2. Theology.

    • (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.

    • (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.

  1. pertaining to the Western Church.

  1. a member of a Catholic church, especially of the Roman Catholic Church.

Origin of Catholic

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English; special use of catholic

Other words from Catholic

  • an·ti-Cath·o·lic, adjective, noun
  • non-Cath·o·lic, adjective, noun
  • pro-Cath·o·lic, adjective, noun
  • pseu·do-Cath·o·lic, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for catholic (1 of 2)


/ (ˈkæθəlɪk, ˈkæθlɪk) /

  1. universal; relating to all men; all-inclusive

  2. comprehensive in interests, tastes, etc; broad-minded; liberal

Origin of catholic

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

Derived forms of catholic

  • catholically or catholicly (kəˈθɒlɪklɪ), adverb

British Dictionary definitions for Catholic (2 of 2)


/ (ˈkæθəlɪk, ˈkæθlɪk) /

  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

  1. denoting or relating to the Roman Catholic Church

  2. 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