Origin of metropolitan

1300–50; Middle English < Late Latin mētropolītānus of, belonging to a metropolis < Greek mētropolī́t(ēs) (see metropolis, -ite1) + Latin -ānus -an
Related formsmet·ro·pol·i·tan·ism, nounin·ter·met·ro·pol·i·tan, adjectivenon·met·ro·pol·i·tan, adjective, nounsu·per·met·ro·pol·i·tan, adjectiveun·met·ro·pol·i·tan, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for metropolitan

urban, cosmopolitan, urbane, city, modern, municipal

Examples from the Web for metropolitan

Contemporary Examples of metropolitan

Historical Examples of metropolitan

  • This statue, now in the Metropolitan Museum, was found at Pompeii.

  • But, these are small oases, and I am soon back again in metropolitan Arcadia.

  • The exchange into the metropolitan monastery was an important event in Sergius's life.

    Father Sergius

    Leo Tolstoy

  • It was their Metropolitan, Suburban, and Brooklyn rolled into one.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan

  • Over the metropolitan area, the scene was one beggaring description.

    Spawn of the Comet

    Harold Thompson Rich

British Dictionary definitions for metropolitan



of or characteristic of a metropolis
constituting a city and its suburbsthe metropolitan area
of, relating to, or designating an ecclesiastical metropolis
of or belonging to the home territories of a country, as opposed to overseas territoriesmetropolitan France


  1. Eastern Churchesthe head of an ecclesiastical province, ranking between archbishop and patriarch
  2. Church of Englandan archbishop
  3. RC Churchan archbishop or bishop having authority in certain matters over the dioceses in his province
Derived Formsmetropolitanism, noun
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 metropolitan

early 15c., "bishop having oversight of other bishops," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolis "mother city" (from which others have been colonized), also "capital city," from meter "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + polis "city" (see polis).

In Greek, "parent state of a colony;" later, "see of a metropolitan bishop." In the West, the position now roughly corresponds to archbishop, but in the Greek church it ranks above it.


1540s, "belonging to an ecclesiastical metropolis," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolites "resident of a city," from metropolis (see metropolitan (n.)). Meaning "belonging to a chief or capital city" is from 1550s. In reference to underground city railways, it is attested from 1867.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper