[awr-ee-en-tl, ohr‐]


(usually initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of the Orient, or East; Eastern.
of the orient, or the eastern region of the world or heavens: oriental countries;stars in the oriental sky.
(initial capital letter) Zoogeography. belonging to a geographical division comprising southern Asia and the Malay Archipelago as far as and including the Philippines, Borneo, and Java.
  1. (usually initial capital letter)designating various gems that are varieties of corundum: Oriental aquamarine; Oriental ruby.
  2. fine or precious; orient: oriental agate; oriental garnet.
  3. designating certain natural saltwater pearls found especially in Asia.


(usually initial capital letter) Older Use: Usually Disparaging and Offensive. a native or inhabitant of the Orient, or East.

Origin of oriental

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin orientālis, equivalent to orient- “east, the east” (see orient) + -ālis -al1
Related formso·ri·en·tal·ly, adverban·ti-O·ri·en·tal, adjective, nounhalf-o·ri·en·tal, adjectivenon·o·ri·en·tal, adjective, nounpseu·do·o·ri·en·tal, adjectivequa·si-o·ri·en·tal, adjectivesem·i·o·ri·en·tal, adjectiveun·o·ri·en·tal, adjective
Can be confusedAsian Asiatic Oriental (see usage note at Asian)

Usage note

See Asian.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for oriental

byzantine, Korean, Asian, Chinese, Japanese

Examples from the Web for oriental

Contemporary Examples of oriental

Historical Examples of oriental

  • I was just going down to the Oriental, but your dug-out wins me hands down.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Yet they behaved with Oriental composure and calmly accepted the inevitable.

  • “A lying dog of some sort,” said Mr Vladimir in somewhat Oriental phraseology.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Now, God and his father's fate made him intellectually inferior to the Oriental.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • The Israelite kissed it thrice with oriental veneration, and replaced it in his breast.

    Leila, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for oriental



another word for eastern Compare occidental



(sometimes not capital) of or relating to the Orient
of or denoting a zoogeographical region consisting of southeastern Asia from India to Borneo, Java, and the Philippines


a breed of slender muscular cat with large ears, long legs, and a long tail
(sometimes not capital) an inhabitant, esp a native, of the Orient
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 oriental

late 14c., from Old French oriental "eastern, from the east" (12c.) and directly from Latin orientalis "of the east," from orientem (see Orient (n.)). Originally in reference to the sky, geographical sense is attested from late 15c.; oriental carpet first recorded 1868 (in C.Latin Eastlake).



"native or inhabitant of the east," 1701, from oriental (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper