noun, plural me·trop·o·lis·es.

any large, busy city.
the chief, and sometimes capital, city of a country, state, or region.
a central or principal place, as of some activity: the music metropolis of France.
the mother city or parent state of a colony, especially of an ancient Greek colony.
the chief see of an ecclesiastical province.

Origin of metropolis

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin mētropolis < Greek mētrópolis a mother state or city, equivalent to mētro-, combining form of mḗtēr mother1 + pólis -polis, polis Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for metropolises

downtown, municipality, capital, megalopolis

Examples from the Web for metropolises

Contemporary Examples of metropolises

Historical Examples of metropolises

  • But the army stopped far short of the new Edens and metropolises.

    Martin Van Buren

    Edward M. Shepard

  • But the pressing disc of the battle-front which had been lowering on Chicago, greatest of Earth's metropolises, was lifted.

    Invaders from the Infinite

    John Wood Campbell

  • These things, Gentlemen, are printed now-a-days; they are printed at Paris, one of the metropolises of thought!

    The Heavenly Father

    Ernest Naville

British Dictionary definitions for metropolises


noun plural -lises

the main city, esp of a country or region; capital
a centre of activity
the chief see in an ecclesiastical province

Word Origin for metropolis

C16: from Late Latin from Greek: mother city or state, from mētēr mother + polis city
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 metropolises



"seat of a metropolitan bishop," 1530s, from Late Latin metropolis; see metropolitan. Meaning "chief town or capital city of a province" is first attested 1580s, earlier metropol (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper