American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A public building of ancient Rome having a central nave with an apse at one or both ends and two side aisles formed by rows of columns, which was used as a courtroom or assembly hall.
- n. A Christian church building of a similar design, having a nave with a semicircular apse, two or four side aisles, a narthex, and a clerestory.
- n. Roman Catholic Church A church that has been accorded certain privileges by the pope.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Originally, the stoa in which the king-archon dispensed justice in Athens; hence, in Greek antiquity, a frequent distinctive name for a stoa or portico.
- n. In Rome, where such buildings were introduced about, two centuries before Christ, a portico or hall recalling in plan or use the Athenian royal portico. Many of these halls of justice were appropriated for Christian churches, and new churches were built upon a similar plan, whence basilica became a usual name for a church. The typical plan of the basilica is an oblong rectangle, with a broad central nave separated from two side-aisles by rows of columns. Over the aisles are galleries. At the extremity of the building furthest from the chief entrance is a raised tribune, where sat originally the Roman pretor or judge and his assessors, and which naturally became the sanctuary of the Christian church. This tribune usually constitutes an apse of the width of the nave, projecting from the main body of the building, and covered with a vault on a semicircular plan. The Christian high altar, which has replaced the throne of the Roman pretor, stands properly in the center of the chord of this apse. Variations from the typical plan are of very common occurrence, such as the absence of an architectural apse; the presence of an apse at each end—a favorite arrangement, especially in early German churches of basilican plan; the duplication of the side-aisles; the carrying of an aisle around the apse; the presence of a transept between aisles and apse, or of minor apses on each side of the chief apse; and many others, often suggested either by accidents of position or by the exigencies of the Christian ritual.
- n. Liturgically, in the Roman Catholic Church, a title conferred by the pope on a church without reference to its architectural arrangement, and carrying with it certain honors and privileges. In addition to the five major or patriarchal basilicas and the eight minor basilicas at Rome, the title is borne in this sense by other churches in all parts of the world, as the cathedrals of Paris and Rheims in France, and the cathedral of Notre Dame at Quebec.
- n. In the middle ages, a name sometimes given to the elaborate structures raised over important tombs, as that over the tomb or shrine of Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey: so called, according to Ducange, because these structures bore a resemblance to diminutive churches.
- n. A large piece of ordnance: probably same as basilisk, 4.
- A code of laws of the Byzantine empire, adapted from the laws of Justinian in the ninth century, by order of the emperor Basil I. Also Basilics.
- n. architecture A Christian church building having a nave with a semicircular apse, side aisles, a narthex and a clerestory.
- n. A Roman Catholic church or cathedral with basilican status.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. Originally, the palace of a king; but afterward, an apartment provided in the houses of persons of importance, where assemblies were held for dispensing justice; and hence, any large hall used for this purpose.
- n. A building used by the Romans as a place of public meeting, with court rooms, etc., attached.
- n. A church building of the earlier centuries of Christianity, the plan of which was taken from the basilica of the Romans. The name is still applied to some churches by way of honorary distinction.
- n. A digest of the laws of Justinian, translated from the original Latin into Greek, by order of
BasilI., in the ninth century.
- n. a Roman building used for public administration
- n. an early Christian church designed like a Roman basilica; or a Roman Catholic church or cathedral accorded certain privileges
- From Latin basilica, from Ancient Greek basilike, from basilike stoa, "royal hall", ultimately from Ancient Greek βασιλικός (basilikos, "royal"), from βασιλεύς (basileus, "king, chief"). (Wiktionary)
- Latin, from Greek basilikē, from feminine of basilikos, royal, from basileus, king. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“I take _basilica_ to mean the saunterers in a basilica, as we might say "the park" for the company in it, "the exchange" for the brokers in it.”
“Although the basilica is a popular tourist attraction on weekends, on the weekday afternoon in late spring when I arrived, mine was the only car on the road.”
“The basilica is set in a grassy area where the apostle Paul is said to have been buried — a favorite picnic ground for Roman families.”
“The basilica is 610 feet long and 449 feet at its widest.”
“The handsome grey stone church -- now dignified as a "basilica" -- which has been built of late years, attests the faith of many thousands who have offered their supplications at the shrine of La bonne Ste.”
“We are in awe, laughing at our fortune, basking in our faith, just under the covered entrance to the basilica, which is packed with people and human breath and perspiration.”
“To the south of the basilica was the baths complex itself and a market hall.”
“Then you have to leave the country, return to Italy, and follow the walls to St. Peter's basilica, which is a trip in itself.”
“The basilica is a magnetic white attached by darkness.”
“Typically, the archpriest of the basilica is a retired prelate, and Law may have even less to do there than he did back at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma in Clinton, Md.”
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