Definition of monolith in English:



  • 1A large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument.

    • ‘It was only when she found herself standing before a massive pile of weathered stones, a huge, natural monolith, that she stopped.’
    • ‘We explored his hideout en route to the southern hemisphere's second-largest single monolith, Bald Rock.’
    • ‘In the midpoint of the large plateau at the hilltop are two enormous stone monoliths, stretching like limestone skyscrapers into the crimson sky.’
    • ‘The giant sandstone monolith reaches a height of 335 metres and measures 8.8 kilometres in circumference.’
    • ‘Arrowfield was named after the adjoining Devil's Arrows - three gritstone monoliths thought to date from the Bronze Age.’
    • ‘Apart from a bit of weathering, the Devil's Arrows - three Early Bronze Age monoliths - have stood unchanged in North Yorkshire for 4,000 years.’
    • ‘These steeples are symbolic representations of the stone monoliths that once dotted the landscape of Europe.’
    • ‘Indeed, hoisting monoliths that could weigh many tons demanded gigantic rigs.’
    • ‘Upon the first day of his eighteenth year the ancients called him to the stone monolith.’
    • ‘The history of the area goes back much further than Byron, however, as the monoliths of Castlerigg Stone Circle testify.’
    • ‘The monument's signature towering monoliths, spires, and steep canyons reflect millions of years of erosion, faulting, and tectonic plate movement.’
    • ‘The five explorers carefully crept through the ruins, past tall stone monoliths and crumbled walls.’
    • ‘The misshapen monoliths were assembled down the side of a slight hill in the countryside beyond the town, not in a circle like Stonehenge, but staggered.’
    • ‘Begun in about 3100 B.C. and altered during the next two millennia, Stonehenge incorporates outsize monoliths quarried far from its site on Salisbury Plain in southern England.’
    • ‘Aerial photography has revealed four later Neolithic cursus monuments converging on the hillock with the monolith, effectively boxing it in.’
    • ‘It is a great place, very sad and wild, dotted with the dwellings of prehistoric man, strange monoliths, huts and graves.’
    • ‘Six of these carved monoliths are enormous tombstones, from 17 to 37 meters tall, the tallest, now fallen, once stood at more than 30 meters.’
    • ‘The ancient monoliths, pyramids, stone circles and grand statues were not just art or architecture.’
    • ‘Made from a single slab of andesite weighing at least 10 tons, this monolith is carved in the form of a doorway with niches on either side.’
    • ‘Experts from Germany are investigating the use of a chemical to stabilise the stone monoliths, which have become severely eroded.’
    standing stone, menhir, megalith
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A very large and characterless building.
      ‘the 72-story monolith overlooking the waterfront’
      • ‘In between Wanee's dingy store and those new monoliths sits a line of shuttered shopfronts with for sale signs.’
      • ‘The white monoliths of the towers are almost negative spaces, while the black surrounding them is luxuriously, expressively painted.’
      • ‘There's no sign outside the concrete-and-glass monolith.’
      • ‘They're in there somewhere, but good luck picking them out from behind all those space-hogging skyscrapers and corporate monoliths.’
      • ‘The skyscrapers on the west side of Shinjuku station were the same; dark monoliths, corroded to half-height by the fog.’
      • ‘The organiser of the concerts took me outside the hotel one day, it is a huge monolith, and asked me if I noticed anything unusual about the design.’
      • ‘He looked at them, one after the other, giant monoliths old and new, gargantuan towers assembled in the sky by human hands.’
      • ‘Many were based in the twin glass and steel monoliths that made up the tallest building in the city at the hub of Western capitalism.’
      • ‘With a few simple words, official honesty was once again the order of business inside the glass-fronted monolith overlooking the East River.’
      • ‘A monolith in glass and concrete stands today in the place of the old colonial structure.’
      • ‘The new Bullring has replaced the concrete monstrosities and monoliths which dominated the city.’
      • ‘The skyline is dominated by the nearby Palace of Culture, a monolith which Stalin constructed as a symbol of his power and as an answer to the skyscrapers of capitalism.’
      • ‘The shopping chain head office can be seen as a black monolith to the left.’
      • ‘Within the dark urban monolith that is the Tower building lies an organisation at the cutting edge of eco-tourism.’
      • ‘When I approached the building, it sure didn't match the grand TV hospital drama-style towering monoliths of bustling health that I'd envisioned.’
      • ‘Glass, glass and more glass are the building materials for this monolith.’
      • ‘He looks around some more, then goes outside and eyes the house, a dark monolith with a light in an upstairs room.’
      • ‘The original buildings were demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building, and were replaced with a 2,200-room, 42-storey art-deco monolith.’
      • ‘They drove across town through the thinning evening traffic and worked their way towards the brand new 52 story monolith known as the Conner tower.’
      • ‘The crumbling concrete monoliths, scattered around the country and particularly prevalent on the outskirts of major cities, are testament to an era when Greece tried to make the most of its low labour costs.’
    2. 1.2A large block of concrete sunk in water, e.g., in the building of a dock.
  • 2A large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform.

    ‘the dominance of broadcasting monoliths limits local programming’
    • ‘Moreover, the army was not a monolith, and military leadership not of one mind.’
    • ‘‘The psychological establishment is not a monolith; it is more like a parliament made up of small fractious parties,’ Garcia writes.’
    • ‘But perhaps a more serious issue is that most prior studies have examined the opinions of the public as a monolith.’
    • ‘The nationalist people lived in the shadow of the Unionist monolith for fifty years until the events of the 1960's occurred.’
    • ‘The experience suggests that the monolith of corporate culture is only a partial reality.’
    • ‘The food monolith, with its chicken mills and slaughterhouses, wasn't created because its owners are cruel.’
    • ‘What better way to attack the monolith of social repression than by attacking the ‘sanctity’ of the linear narrative?’
    • ‘In reality, such identity typically reflects the control mechanism that cements the corporate body into a virtual monolith.’
    • ‘The meeting is symbolic of Coleman's transition from a top executive at a corporate monolith to founder of a bootstrapping software company.’
    • ‘Eschewing the model of the totalitarian monolith, Neumann's was the first influential attempt to analyse the structures of the regime in terms of a multitude of power blocs.’
    • ‘He also sometimes treats his cultural contexts as monoliths, leading him to generalize across class and national boundaries.’
    • ‘The division and splintering of local communities continues as the monoliths desperately seek to control and dominate.’
    • ‘New movements or schools of film-making in other countries tended to see Hollywood as a monolith against which one could productively bang one's head.’
    • ‘If the Constitution becomes the basis for the enforceable spread of one sect's values, then evangelism really will have become a political monolith.’
    • ‘Seemingly unshakable totalitarian monoliths are in fact sometimes as cohesive as proverbial houses of cards, and fall just as quickly.’
    • ‘The result is that the Roman family has been treated as an undifferentiated monolith.’
    • ‘Government is no monolith, he explains, and its competing interests and agencies are always at war with one another.’
    • ‘The struggle these days is between corporate monoliths and populations of workers.’
    • ‘With the collapse of the Soviet economy, prisons could no longer function as an industrial monolith.’
    • ‘Second, the dominance of broadcasting monoliths limits local programming, as the airwaves become saturated with national programs and syndicated fare.’


Mid 19th century: from French monolithe, from Greek monolithos, from monos single + lithos stone.