car·di·nal (kärdn-əl, kärdnəl)
1. Of foremost importance; paramount: a cardinal rule; cardinal sins.
2. Dark to deep or vivid red.
1. Abbr. Card. 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.
2. A dark to deep or vivid red.
3. A North American bird (Cardinalis cardinalis) having a crested head, a short thick bill, and bright red plumage in the male.
4. A short hooded cloak, originally of scarlet cloth, worn by women in the 1700s.
5. A cardinal number.
[Middle English, from Late Latin cardinālis, principal, pivotal, from Latin, serving as a hinge, from cardō, cardin-, hinge.]
(click for a larger image)cardinal
female (left) and male (right) cardinals
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.