Definition of menhir in US English:



  • A tall upright stone of a kind erected in prehistoric times in western Europe.

    • ‘A menhir is a sort of northern European variety of the stela, an ancient upright stone or pillar serving as a monument, and accepted by the credulous as being generally mystical.’
    • ‘While many monuments consist of separate stones raised on end as menhirs, stone circles (as at Stonehenge), and avenues (as seen at Carnac, in France), the same technique was often used in walling chambers.’
    • ‘All of the stone circles, menhirs, dolmens, etc., of the British Isles were constructed by peoples who antedated the Celts by one to three thousand years.’
    • ‘In Europe, such menhirs are sometimes arranged in rows and groups or ‘alignments', while in Britain, especially, they form circles or ellipses.’
    • ‘Some areas in northern France are also known for their megalithic standing stones, called dolmens or menhir.’


Mid 19th century: from Breton men ‘stone’ + hir ‘long’.