Definition of obelisk in US English:



  • 1A stone pillar, typically having a square or rectangular cross section and a pyramidal top, set up as a monument or landmark.

    • ‘Tall, stone obelisks and stellae exemplify the building skills of the people.’
    • ‘Living in north Alton as a child, I played in the Confederate cemetery, both tree-shaded and open, green and lovely, with a granite obelisk monument to the dead.’
    • ‘The battle site was for many years recorded by a stone obelisk which stood on the bank of the river at Oldbridge but which was blown up in the early years of the 20th century.’
    • ‘Work involved the repair and cleaning of headstones, above-ground chambers, obelisks and monuments together with the construction of boundary walls and ornate railings.’
    • ‘Jordan arrived at work yesterday to find a stone obelisk in front of the restaurant toppled over.’
    • ‘I walked from the fort site three miles to the stone obelisk marking the place where Captain Fetterman and his men met their end in 1866.’
    • ‘Over the past few years, the English archaeologist David Philipson has uncovered a dense underground network of burial chambers and connecting tunnels below them, proof that the obelisks were funeral monuments.’
    • ‘More than one-quarter of Australia's civic memorials are obelisks or columns - traditional cemetery forms.’
    • ‘For instance, in 1676 the academicians of Aries undertook the reconstruction of a Roman obelisk excavated nearby under the supervision of the academy.’
    • ‘Thus, at Treblinka, the memorial to those killed consists of 17,000 granite shards surrounding a large obelisk broken down the middle.’
    • ‘From the orange obelisk monument of Ohakune, to the corrugated iron sheep and dog combo, outlandish structures remind us of the cargo-cult of tourism and a need to be noticed.’
    • ‘Most of its grandeur - all that street furniture of pillars, obelisks and pyramids - is the work of one man: Joze Plecnik, who studied in Prague.’
    • ‘Porterfield ventures to propose that the obelisk was ‘a monument that advanced the culture and politics of an era, not a regime’.’
    • ‘Travelers to Egypt are still impressed with its great pyramids, slender obelisks and avenues of monuments.’
    • ‘‘The obelisk is a remarkable landmark, but made even more important because it was one of the first such monuments to be built,’ he said.’
    • ‘High above a hill in Oakwood Cemetery at Troy, New York, stands a huge obelisk, a monument to the life of Maj.’
    • ‘Lengthening shadows cast by giant stone structures, like obelisks or the pillars of Stonehenge, were used by ancient civilizations to measure time.’
    • ‘The sad truth is that she's barely mentioned in the 3,000 years of effigies and hieroglyphics that cover the towering columns, needle-like obelisks and endless sarcophagi.’
    • ‘Finally in 1885 it was replaced by an obelisk known as Flinders' Column.’
    • ‘All I could see, from a distance, were numerous hands vigorously hurling stones at the aforementioned obelisk.’
    column, pillar, needle, shaft, monolith, monument, memorial
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A mountain, tree, or other natural object shaped like an obelisk.
  • 2

    another term for obelus
    • ‘Scholarly notes are usually signalled by superscript numbers at appropriate points in a text, but such symbols as asterisks and obelisks may be used instead for footnotes.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek obeliskos, diminutive of obelos ‘pointed pillar’.