see also: Cardinal
  • (British) IPA: /ˈkɑː.dɪ.nəl/, /ˈkɑːd.nəl/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈkɑɹdɪnəl/, /ˈkɑɹdnəl/


  1. Of fundamental importance; crucial, pivotal.
    a cardinal rule
    • 1613, Shakespeare, Henry VIII (play),
      But cardinal sins, and hollow hearts, I fear ye.
    • the cardinal intersections of the zodiac
    • Impudence is now a cardinal virtue.
  2. (nautical) Of or relating to the cardinal directions (north, south, east and west).
    a cardinal mark
  3. Describing a "natural" number used to indicate quantity (e.g., zero, one, two, three), as opposed to an ordinal number indicating relative position.
  4. Having a bright red color (from the color of a Catholic cardinal's cassock).
Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • French: rouge cardinal
  • German: kardinalrot
  • Italian: cardinale
  • Portuguese: vermelho-cardeal

cardinal (plural cardinals)

  1. (Roman Catholic) One of the officials appointed by the pope in the Roman Catholic Church, ranking only below the pope and the patriarch, constituting the special college which elects the pope. (See Wikipedia article on Catholic cardinals.)
  2. Any of a genus of songbirds of the finch family, Cardinalis.
  3. Any of various related passerine birds of the family Cardinalidae (See Wikipedia article on cardinals) and other similar birds that were once considered to be related.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter V, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326 ↗:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  4. (color) A deep red color, somewhat less vivid than scarlet, the traditional colour of a Catholic cardinal's cassock. (same as cardinal red)
  5. (math) Short for cardinal number#English|cardinal number, a number indicating quantity, or the size of a set (e.g., zero, one, two, three). See Wikipedia article on Cardinal number.
    • 1920, Bertrand Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, p.83:
      This cardinal number is the smallest of the infinite cardinal numbers; it is the one to which Cantor has appropriated the Hebrew aleph with the suffix 0, to distinguish it from larger infinite cardinals. Thus the name of the smallest of infinite cardinals is 0א.
  6. (grammar) Short for cardinal numeral#English|cardinal numeral, a word used to represent a cardinal number.
    • 2005, Frederic M. Wheelock, Wheelock's Latin, 6th ed. revised, p.97:
      The commonest numerals in Latin, as in English, are the "cardinals" […] and the "ordinals" […].
  7. Short for cardinal flower#English|cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), a flowering plant.
  8. Short for cardinal tetra#English|cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), a freshwater fish.
  9. (bow, historical) A woman's short cloak with a hood, originally made of scarlet cloth.
    • 1775, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Duenna, I.3:
      She has valuables of mine; besides, my cardinal and veil are in her room.
    • Where's your cardinal! Make haste.
  10. (obsolete) Mulled red wine.
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • French: rouge cardinal
  • German: Kardinalrot
  • Italian: rosso cardinale
  • Portuguese: vermelho-cardeal


cardinal (plural cardinals)

  1. (baseball) A player on the St. Louis Cardinals team.
    Smith became a Cardinal as the result of a pre-season trade.
  2. (American football) A player on the Arizona Cardinals team.
  3. A player on a sports team at Stanford University.
  4. A student or player on a sports team at the University of Louisville.

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