[kuh-loh-nee-uh l]
See more synonyms for colonial on
  1. of, concerning, or pertaining to a colony or colonies: the colonial policies of France.
  2. of, concerning, or pertaining to colonialism; colonialistic.
  3. (often initial capital letter) pertaining to the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America, or to their period.
  4. Ecology. forming a colony.
  5. (initial capital letter) Architecture, Furniture.
    1. noting or pertaining to the styles of architecture, ornament, and furnishings of the British colonies in America in the 17th and 18th centuries, mainly adapted to local materials and demands from prevailing English styles.
    2. noting or pertaining to various imitations of the work of American colonial artisans.
  1. an inhabitant of a colony.
  2. a house in or imitative of the Colonial style.

Origin of colonial

An Americanism dating back to 1770–80; colony + -al1
Related formsco·lo·ni·al·ly, adverbnon·co·lo·ni·al, adjective, nounnon·co·lo·ni·al·ly, adverbpro·co·lo·ni·al, adjective, nounsem·i·co·lo·ni·al, adjectivesem·i·co·lo·ni·al·ly, adverbun·co·lo·ni·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for colonial


  1. of, characteristic of, relating to, possessing, or inhabiting a colony or colonies
  2. (often capital) characteristic of or relating to the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America (1776)
  3. (often capital) of or relating to the colonies of the British Empire
  4. denoting, relating to, or having the style of Neoclassical architecture used in the British colonies in America in the 17th and 18th centuries
  5. of or relating to the period of Australian history before Federation (1901)
  6. (of organisms such as corals and bryozoans) existing as a colony of polyps
  7. (of animals and plants) having become established in a community in a new environment
  1. a native of a colony
Derived Formscolonially, adverb
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 colonial

1756, from Latin colonia (see colony) + -al (1), or directly from colony on model of baronoinal. Meaning "from or characteristic of America during colonial times" is from 1776. The noun meaning "inhabitant of a colony" is recorded from 1865.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper