Definition of uncial in English:



  • 1Of or written in a majuscule script with rounded unjoined letters which is found in European manuscripts of the 4th–8th centuries and from which modern capital letters are derived.

    • ‘Apparently, ‘cursive’ writing replaced ‘uncial’ writing in the 8th century.’
    upper-case, block
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  • 2rare Relating to an inch or an ounce.

    • ‘The uncial system was adopted by the Greeks of Sicily.’


  • 1An uncial letter or script.

    • ‘The codices produced in this period bear display scripts in capitals and uncials executed in double tracing, and are also remarkable for the narrowing of certain letter-forms like for instance the ‘O’.’
    • ‘High-grade book scripts were angular square capitals suited to inscriptions and the chisel, more fluid rustic capitals and rounded uncials suited to the pen.’
    capital letter, upper-case letter, block capital
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    1. 1.1 A manuscript in uncial script.
      • ‘Because minuscules are generally later than uncials, and also because they were easier to produce, minuscule copies outnumber uncials of the New Testament in a ratio of ten to one.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin uncialis, from uncia ‘inch’. uncial (sense 1 of the adjective) is in the late Latin sense of unciales litterae ‘uncial letters’, the original application of which is unclear.