Definitions

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

  • n. A tall, four-sided shaft of stone, usually tapered and monolithic, that rises to a pointed pyramidal top.
  • n. Printing The dagger sign (†), used especially as a reference mark. Also called dagger, obelus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tall, square, tapered, stone monolith topped with a pyramidal point, frequently used as a monument.
  • n. The dagger sign (†), especially when used as a reference mark.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An upright, four-sided pillar, gradually tapering as it rises, and terminating in a pyramid called pyramidion. It is ordinarily monolithic. Egyptian obelisks are commonly covered with hieroglyphic writing from top to bottom.
  • n. A mark of reference; -- called also dagger [†]. See Dagger, n., 2.
  • transitive v. To mark or designate with an obelisk.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A tapering shaft of rectangular plan, generally finished with a pyramidal apex.
  • n. In printing and writing, a sign resembling a small dagger (), and hence also called a dagger.

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

  • n. a character used in printing to indicate a cross reference or footnote
  • n. a stone pillar having a rectangular cross section tapering towards a pyramidal top

Etymologies

Latin obeliscus, from Greek obeliskos, diminutive of obelos, a spit, obelisk.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1569. From Middle French obelisque, from Latin obeliscus ("obelisk"), from Ancient Greek ὀβελίσκος (obeliskos), diminutive of ὀβελός (obelos, "needle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Well, moving the obelisk is something spectacular at that time, and even attracting people.

    Moving the Vatican Obelisk

  • The great obelisk is but one of the many cases in point.

    A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

  • The colossi are of black granite; the obelisk is of red, highly polished, and covered on all four sides with superb hieroglyphs in three vertical columns.

    A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

  • On the other side of the water, the New York Sun called the obelisk "terrific humbug," and "only a broken, decaying and disfigured old block of stone."

    'Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights'

  • Today, the obelisk is a common sight in cemeteries across America, standing as memorials to the deceased.

    Touring the New York City Obelisks

  • "Our prime minister tells us that the return of the obelisk is a Tigrian affair, not the business of us southern people," says Alemayehu, an ethnic Oromo who works for a non-governmental organization that helps the rural poor outside the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Special Report: The Axum Obelisk Returns, but Some Still Grumble

  • It was so far off her personal awareness sensors that the obelisk was the first artifact Abramowitz had ever physically encountered from the planet, an admission she made somewhat sheepishly considering her role as a cultural specialist attached to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers.

    Creative Couplings

  • The obelisk is the symbol of the perpetual past, holding in its changeless unity, as on its carved sides, the memories of former ages; the fountain is the symbol of the perpetual present, ever changing, ever new.

    Roman Mosaics Or, Studies in Rome and Its Neighbourhood

  • And hence the obelisk is the most suitable of all forms to indicate in our cemeteries the glorious truth of the resurrection, life rising victorious out of the transitory condition of death.

    Roman Mosaics Or, Studies in Rome and Its Neighbourhood

  • The obelisk is the oldest Egyptian one known; it is of red granite, sixty-six feet in height, although it seems lower on account of the mass of debris at the base, and is inscribed with hieroglyphics.

    Travels in the Far East

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