1. A large block of stone, especially one used in architecture or sculpture.
2. Something, such as a column or monument, made from one large block of stone.
3. An outcropping, cliff, or mountain having the appearance of a single block of stone: "On a waterway of grand pilot marks, the finest lay just ahead, Beacon Rock, a distinctive black monolith some eight hundred feet high" (William Least Heat-Moon).
4. Something suggestive of a large block of stone, as in immovability, massiveness, or uniformity: "Standing against a global Communism it took to be monolithic, the Pentagon wanted to be taken as a monolith" (William Carroll).
[French monolithe, from Greek monolithos, consisting of a single stone : mono-, mono- + lithos, stone.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.