Definition of basilica in US English:



  • 1A large oblong hall or building with double colonnades and a semicircular apse, used in ancient Rome as a court of law or for public assemblies.

    • ‘Vestiges of the city's forum, basilica, temple, ramparts, bastions and oil mills are also well preserved.’
    • ‘Each courtroom is designed like a basilica - an ancient Roman courtroom - with columns and a vaulted ceiling.’
    • ‘The surviving Greek public buildings were swept away and replaced by two forums, a triumphal arch, Imperial temples, a theatre, a basilica, and other purely Roman urban elements.’
    • ‘The civil basilica was constructed over the baths, and a civil bath-house is known.’
    • ‘Not far away, and altogether more appealing, is the abandoned Portuguese city of Old Goa, now a dramatic collection of cathedrals and basilicas.’
    • ‘The basilica, and the Parthenon itself, became the forefathers of the mosque and the church.’
    • ‘He made drawings of a great many ancient buildings, including baths, basilicas, amphitheatres, and temples, particularly studying the construction of architectural elements, such as vaults and cupolas.’
    • ‘Hadrianic London, too, saw the demolition of the substantial Flavian forum and basilica and their replacement with a complex twice the normal size.’
    • ‘It had an assembly hall, or basilica, where the orders were issued, and there was a shrine to the imperial cult, where statues of the Emperor were kept.’
    • ‘The resources required to deliver a combination of projects of road building, laying out of street grids, the provision of forums, basilicas, public baths, etc. were not such as to lead to a rapid execution.’
    • ‘In ancient Rome, all wills had to be opened in a public setting - a basilica or forum - and this had to take place during the day with witnesses in attendance.’
    • ‘Other churches emulated the great fourth and fifth-century basilicas of Rome.’
    • ‘Somewhere lie public buildings, temples, warehouses, a Forum with a basilica in it and a Governor's Palace.’
    • ‘They have ruins of baths, a massive city gate, a Byzantine basilica, a 4th Century Agora, a 300 Meter Colonnaded street and a gigantic stadium for racing horses.’
    • ‘Before long, the line of blocks emerged as the top tread of a massive flight of steps that must have been part of a large public building, later revealed as the town basilica.’
    • ‘The forums are surrounded by temples, buildings known as basilicas, and honorary buildings, to honor victorious generals.’
    • ‘Pompeii was a walled town with an amphitheatre, forum, basilica, several public baths, two theatres, and at least nine temples.’
    • ‘Kent's solution was to devise an original interior combining element from Vitruvius's Egyptian Hall, the colonnaded basilicas of ancient Rome, and the frieze from the Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome.’
    • ‘We pulled to a halt beside the colonnade of an old basilica and pitched our tents for the night.’
    • ‘The simple intermediate floors have stone Greek-revival details set in brick, while the rooftop building is a cross between a Roman basilica and a Victorian market hall set up in the sky.’
    • ‘He might then proceed to the forum or the basilica, but the shift was only one of scale, not of kind.’
    1. 1.1 A building similar to a Roman basilica, used as a Christian church.
      • ‘The church of Sacré-Cœur, whose great white basilica rivals the Eiffel Tower on the skyline of Paris, was already being built on the heights of Montmartre on the opposite bank of the River Seine.’
      • ‘It is there too on the island of San Giulio, dominated by an ancient basilica and more modern convent.’
      • ‘But I ended up with a knot that looked, well, complicated enough, and made my way up into the old stone basilica, which is far and away the only church on the island.’
      • ‘Above, it was enclosed in an octagonal structure, which formed in effect the sanctuary of the basilica, which stretched in five aisles divided by rows of monolithic columns.’
      • ‘Once completed, the basilica became the largest Catholic church in the world at that time, 610 ft long and 449 ft at its widest.’
      • ‘Confirmation takes place in a Byzantine basilica to signify the spread of Christianity.’
      • ‘The basilica together with the villa were a clear demonstration of the power of Rome and the new state religion: Christianity.’
      • ‘When your turn to enter the basilica finally arrives, you must bend down before a low doorway and step over the raised threshold.’
      • ‘During the 300's, the basilica became the most common form of church design.’
      • ‘Early Christian basilicas like those in Rome and elsewhere typically had an altar facing the people with a space behind for the presiding celebrant and his clergy.’
      • ‘Remains of an early Christian funerary basilica dating back to the 5th century have been brought to light in Marseilles.’
      • ‘I visited many of the basilicas and churches she did, but my attention was probably more on Borrominian curves and appropriated Roman columns than on whose relics were under the altar, curious as they were.’
      • ‘As he moved through a huge crowd to the basilica's sanctuary, he received an ecstatic welcome.’
      • ‘It was before the altar of this same basilica, in his Marine dress uniform, that he was married just eight months ago.’
      • ‘Of the five churches in this group, the largest is Bet Medhane Alem, a vast basilica 33 x 23m in plan, with 72 free-standing columns, an astonishing feat of carving.’
      • ‘It's also tiny, with about 27 miles of coastline, a capital town called Victoria, 17 other villages, dozens of magnificent churches, a cathedral and a basilica.’
      • ‘The church plan, vaguely reminiscent of a classical basilica, is a simple asymmetric rectangle.’
      • ‘They would say that being an archpriest of a major basilica is an important job, you need a senior churchman to do it.’
      • ‘Their relationship with the ‘Gregorian’ repertory has been much debated, but there has been general agreement in associating them with the liturgy celebrated in the basilicas of Rome by their clergy and supporting monasteries.’
      • ‘Dodona is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, home not only to a shrine to the oracle but also to ruins of a temple to the Greek god Zeus and an early Christian basilica.’
    2. 1.2 The name given to certain churches granted special privileges by the Pope.
      • ‘Vatican archeologists believe that they have identified the tomb of St. Paul in the Roman basilica that bears his name.’
      • ‘Modelled on St. Peter's basilica in Rome, its façade is defined by Corinthian pilasters and a pediment, with a great central dome towering over them.’
      • ‘On the floor of St Peter's basilica in Rome are a series of bronze plaques with engravings.’
      • ‘Tomorrow, the pastor will hold service for the followers of the Church at San Thome basilica on San Thome High Road in Mylapore.’
      • ‘The basilica takes its name from John the Baptist and John the apostle, and also from the Laterani, the family of Constantine's wife, who donated the land on which the church stands.’
      • ‘A humble priest saying Mass with the poor in a slum of Mexico City effects the same mystery as does the cardinal archbishop in his cathedral or the pope in the basilica of St. Peter's.’
      • ‘The final two chapters pay particular attention to the Roman basilicas of Saint Peter and of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.’
      • ‘When Francesco Borromini came to restore the nave of the Lateran basilica during the pontificate of Innocent X, subsidiary altars again had no role to play.’
      • ‘His new position as archpriest of St Mary Major Basilica in Rome puts him in charge of one of four basilicas under direct Vatican jurisdiction.’
      • ‘The modern city of Sofia was named in the 14th century after the basilica Saint Sofia.’
      • ‘At Rome a basilica was provided for the Pope where the barracks of the mounted branch of the praetorians had stood, and other churches, most notably St Peter's, followed.’
      • ‘Over the centuries, John the Baptist has been its patron saint, and St. John the Evangelist has also been associated with the basilica.’
      • ‘When I entered the Lisieux basilica, I felt (as one often does in churches built on a grand scale) small and fragile.’
      • ‘I have drifted slightly from the Feast Day - Monday February 11 in the underground basilica, or to give it its correct name, The Basilica of Pius X, was once again a wonderful experience.’
      • ‘In Lisieux, a vast basilica dedicated to Thérèse was erected southwest of the city center.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘royal palace’, from Greek basilikē, feminine of basilikos ‘royal’, from basileus ‘king’.