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

  • adj. Being of a specified position in a numbered series: an ordinal rank of seventh.
  • adj. Of or relating to a taxonomic order.
  • n. An ordinal number.
  • n. Ecclesiastical A book of instructions for daily services.
  • n. Ecclesiastical A book of forms for ordination.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of a number, indicating position in a sequence.
  • adj. Of or relating to the groupings called orders.
  • n. An ordinal number such as first, second and third.
  • n. A book used in the ordination of Anglican ministers, or in certain Roman Catholic services

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Indicating order or succession; Contrasted to cardinal.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to an order.
  • n. A word or number denoting order or succession.
  • n. The book of forms for making, ordaining, and consecrating bishops, priests, and deacons.
  • n. A book containing the rubrics of the Mass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Noting position in an order or series: an epithet designating one of that class of numerals which describe an object as occupying a certain place in a series of similar objects; first, second, third, etc., are ordinal numbers.
  • In natural history, pertaining to, characteristic of, or designating an order, as of animals, or a family of plants: as, ordinal terms; a group of ordinal value; ordinal distinctions; ordinal rank.
  • n. A numeral which designates the place or position of an object in some particular series, as first, second, third, etc.
  • n. A body of regulations.
  • n. A book containing the orders and constitutions of a religious house or a college.
  • n. In England before the Reformation, a book directing in what manner the services for the canonical hours should be said throughout the year; a directory of the daily office: also known as the ordinale, pica, or pie. It contained a calendar, and gave the variations in the choir offices according to the day or season.
  • n. In the Anglican Ch. since the Reformation, a book containing the forms for making, ordaining, and consecrating bishops, priests, and deacons; a collection of officers prescribing the form and manner of conferring holy orders. The ordinal was first published in English in 1550, and was slightly changed in 1552 and 1662. Although technically a separate book, it has always since 1552 been bound with the Prayer-book.

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

  • n. the number designating place in an ordered sequence
  • adj. of or relating to a taxonomic order
  • adj. being or denoting a numerical order in a series


Middle English ordinel, orderly, regular, from Late Latin ōrdinālis, ordinal, from Latin ōrdō, ōrdin-, order; see ar- in Indo-European roots. N., sense 2, from Middle English, from Medieval Latin ōrdināle, from Late Latin, neuter sing. of ōrdinālis, ordinal.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin ordinalis, adjective formed from noun ordo, order, + adjective suffix -alis (Wiktionary)


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