Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of foremost importance; paramount: a cardinal rule; cardinal sins.
  • adj. Dark to deep or vivid red.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A high church official, ranking just below the pope, who has been appointed by a pope to membership in the College of Cardinals.
  • n. A dark to deep or vivid red.
  • n. A North American finch (Cardinalis cardinalis) having a crested head, a short thick bill, and bright red plumage in the male.
  • n. A short hooded cloak, originally of scarlet cloth, worn by women in the 18th century.
  • n. A cardinal number.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of fundamental importance; crucial, pivotal.
  • adj. Of or relating to the cardinal directions (north, south, east and west).
  • adj. Describing a "natural" number used to indicate quantity (e.g., one, two, three), as opposed to an ordinal number indicating relative position.
  • adj. Having a bright red color (from the color of a Catholic cardinal's cassock).
  • n. A number indicating quantity, or the size of a set, e.g., one, two, three. (See Wikipedia article on Cardinal number.)
  • n. An official in the Catholic Church, ranking only below the Pope and the patriarchs. (See Wikipedia article on Catholic cardinals.)
  • n. A songbird of the finch family, Cardinalis cardinalis.
  • n. Any of various related passerine birds of the family Cardinalidae. (See Wikipedia article on cardinal birds.)
  • n. A shade of scarlet associated with the colour of a Catholic cardinal's cassock.
  • n. A woman's short cloak with a hood.
  • n. mulled red wine

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of fundamental importance; preëminent; superior; chief; principal.
  • n. One of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the pope's council, or the sacred college.
  • n. A woman's short cloak with a hood.
  • n. Mulled red wine.
  • n. the cardinal bird, also called the northern cardinal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a hinge; noting that on which something else hinges or depends; hence, chief; fundamental; preëminent; of special importance: as, cardinal virtues or sins; the cardinal doctrines of a creed; the cardinal points.
  • In conchology, of or relating to the hinge of a bivalve shell: as, cardinal teeth.
  • In entomology, pertaining to the cardo or base of the maxilla, which is sometimes called the cardinal piece.
  • [See II., 3.] Of a rich deep-red color, somewhat less vivid than scarlet.
  • In astrology, the rising and setting of the sun, the zenith, and the nadir.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. being or denoting a numerical quantity but not order
  • n. the number of elements in a mathematical set; denotes a quantity but not the order
  • adj. serving as an essential component
  • n. (Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes
  • n. crested thick-billed North American finch having bright red plumage in the male
  • n. a variable color averaging a vivid red

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Late Latin cardinālis, principal, pivotal, from Latin, serving as a hinge, from cardō, cardin-, hinge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French cardinal, from Latin cardinalis ("pertaining to a hinge, hence applied to that on which something turns or depends, important, principal, chief"), from cardo ("hinge") + -alis ("adjectival suffix").

Examples

Comments

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  • Of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a

    hinge; noting that on which

    something else

    hinges or depends;

    hence, chief; fundamental;

    preëminent; of special importance:

    as, cardinal virtues or sins;

    the cardinal doctrines of a creed;

    the cardinal points.

    In conchology, of or relating

    to the hinge of a bivalve shell:

    as, cardinal teeth.

    In entomology, pertaining to the

    cardo or base of the maxilla, which is

    sometimes called the cardinal piece.

    Of a rich deep-red

    color, somewhat less

    vivid than scarlet.

    In astrology, the rising

    and setting of the sun,

    the zenith, and the nadir.

    June 5, 2012