In Catholicism, a cardinal is a high ranking bishop. In math, you use cardinal numbers to count. A cardinal rule is one that is central and should not be broken.


Of fundamental importance; pre'89minet; superior; chief; principal.

crested thick-billed North American finch having bright red plumage in the male

a variable color averaging a vivid red

(Roman Catholic Church) one of a group of more than 100 prominent bishops in the Sacred College who advise the Pope and elect new Popes

the number of elements in a mathematical set; denotes a quantity but not the order

Adjective S.
serving as an essential component; "a cardinal rule"; "the central cause of the problem"; "an example that was fundamental to the argument"; "computers are fundamental to modern industrial structure"


being or denoting a numerical quantity but not order; "cardinal numbers"

Of fundamental importance; preeminent; superior; chief; principal.

One of the ecclesiastical princes who constitute the pope's council, or the sacred college.

A woman's short cloak with a hood.

Mulled red wine.


Car"di*nal , a. [L. cardinalis, fr. cardo the hing of a door, that on which a thing turns or depends: cf. F. cardinal.] Of fundamental importance; pre'89minet; superior; chief; principal.
The cardinal intersections of the zodiac.
Impudence is now a cardinal virtue.
But cardinal sins, and hollow hearts, I fear ye.
Cardinal numbers, the numbers one, two, three, etc., in distinction from first, second, third, etc., which are called ordinal numbers. -- Cardinal points (a) (Geol.) The four principal points of the compass, or intersections of the horizon with the meridian and the prime vertical circle, north, south east, and west. (b) (Astrol.) The rising and setting of the sun, the zenith and nadir. -- Cardinal signs (Astron.) Aries, Lidra, Cancer, and Capricorn. -- Cardinal teeth (Zo'94l.), the central teeth of bivalve shell. See Bivalve. -- Cardinal veins (Anat.), the veins in vertebrate embryos, which run each side of the vertebral column and returm the blood to the heart. They remain through life in some fishes. -- Cardinal virtues, pre'89minent virtues; among the ancients, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. -- Cardinal winds, winds which blow from the cardinal points due north, south, east, or west.


Car"di*nal, n. [F. carinal, It. cardinale, LL. cardimalis (ecclesi'91 Roman'91). See Cardinal, a.] 1. (R.C.Ch.) One of the ecclesiastical prince who constitute the pope's council, or the sacred college.
The clerics of the supreme Chair are called Cardinals, as undoubtedly adhering more nearly to the hinge by which all things are moved.
&hand; The cardinals are appointed by the pope. Since the time of Sixtus V., their number can never exceed seventy (six of episcopal rank, fifty priests, fourteen deacons), and the number of cardinal priests and deacons is seldom full. When the papel chair is vacant a pope is elected by the college of cardinals from among themselves. The cardinals take procedence of all dignitaries except the pope. The principal parts of a cardinal's costume are a red cassock, a rochet, a short purple mantle, and a red hat with a small crown and broad, brim, with cards and tessels of a special pattern hanging from it. 2. A woman's short cloak with a hood.
Where's your cardinal! Make haste.
3. Mulled red wine. Hotten. Cardinal bird, ∨ Cardinal grosbeak (Zo'94l.), an American song bird (Cardinalis cardinalis, or C. Virginianus), of the family Fringillid'91, or finches having a bright red plumage, and a high, pointed crest on its head. The males have loud and musical notes resembling those of a fife. Other related species are also called cardinal birds. -- Cardinal flower (Bot.), an herbaceous plant (Lobelia cardinalis) bearing brilliant red flowers of much beauty. -- Cardinal red, color like that of a cardinal's cassock, hat, etc.; a bright red, darket than scarlet, and between scarlet and crimson.

Of fundamental importance; pre'89minet; superior; chief; principal.

1. (R.C.Ch.) One of the ecclesiastical prince who constitute the pope's council, or the sacred college.


Usage Examples

One must not make oneself cheap here - that is a cardinal point - or else one is done. Whoever is most impertinent has the best chance.

A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.

Punctuality is one of the cardinal business virtues: always insist on it in your subordinates.

In my family, there was one cardinal priority - education. College was not an option it was mandatory. So even though we didn't have a lot of money, we made it work. I signed up for financial aid, Pell Grants, work study, anything I could.

Misspelled Form

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Other Usage Examples

In the old days... it was a basic, cardinal fact that producers didn't have opinions. When I was producing natural history programmes, I didn't use them as vehicles for my own opinion. They were factual programmes.

The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it.

The cardinal sin in sports, what could really wreck it, is not cheating to win, which has gone on forever, but cheating to lose. That threatens a fundamental aspect of sports' appeal, which is their spontaneity. If games are fixed, they're no different from movies they're scripted.

Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.


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