a tapering, four-sided shaft of stone, usually monolithic and having a pyramidal apex.
something resembling such a shaft.
an obelus.
Printing. dagger(def 2).

Origin of obelisk

1540–50; < Latin obeliscus < Greek obelískos small spit, equivalent to obel(ós) spit, pointed pillar + -iskos diminutive suffix
Related formsob·e·lis·cal, adjectiveob·e·lis·koid, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for obelisk

shaft, dagger, column, pillar, needle, mark, monument, monolith, tower, pylon

Examples from the Web for obelisk

Contemporary Examples of obelisk

Historical Examples of obelisk

  • If a pyramid or obelisk mould, lift it carefully off the top.

  • My blue-eyed friend erected himself into an obelisk of profanity.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Heliopolis is the "house of the obelisk," the obelisk being a representation of the sun.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

  • It went up the Nile as near to the place where the obelisk stood as it could go.

    Rollo in Paris

    Jacob Abbott

  • Then they made a road leading from the place where the obelisk stood to the river.

    Rollo in Paris

    Jacob Abbott

British Dictionary definitions for obelisk



a stone pillar having a square or rectangular cross section and sides that taper towards a pyramidal top, often used as a monument in ancient Egypt
printing another name for dagger (def. 2)
Derived Formsobeliscal, adjectiveobeliskoid, adjective

Word Origin for obelisk

C16: via Latin from Greek obeliskos a little spit, from obelos spit
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 obelisk

"rectangular stone column tapering at the top," 1560s, from Middle French obélisque (16c.) and directly from Latin obeliscus "obelisk, small spit," from Greek obeliskos "small spit, obelisk, leg of a compass," diminutive of obelos "a spit, pointed pillar, needle." Related: Obeliskine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper