From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Catholic


Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French catholique, from Latin catholicus, from Ancient Greek καθολικός (katholikós, universal), from κατά (katá, according to) + ὅλος (hólos, whole).



catholic (comparative more catholic, superlative most catholic)

  1. Universal; all-encompassing.
    Synonyms: universal; see also Thesaurus:generic, Thesaurus:comprehensive
    • 1624, John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII., in The Works of John Donne, vol. 3, ed. Henry Alford, London: John W. Parker (1839), pp. 574-5:
      The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.29:
      Essentially, and in idea, the empire, in the minds of the Romans, was world-wide. This conception descended to the Church, which was ‘Catholic’ in spite of Buddhists, Confucians, and (later) Muhammadans.
    • 1961 March, “Motive Power Miscellany”, in Trains Illustrated, page 181:
      Newton Heath depot has lately been catholic in its choice of power for the 6.10 p.m. Manchester-Southport and the 9 p.m. back via Bolton.
    • 1995, Brian D. Crandall & Peter W. Stahl, Human Digestive Effects on a Micromammalian Skeleton, Journal of Archaeological Science (1995) 22, 789-797:
      This semifossorial mammal tends to reside in areas with herbaceous cover, frequenting runways in the upper soil horizons where it feeds on a highly catholic diet of animal and plant materials []
  2. Alternative letter-case form of Catholic.
  3. (obsolete) Common or prevalent; especially universally prevalent.
  4. (usually of people and their feelings, tastes, etc.) Embracing all.
    Synonyms: eclectic; see also Thesaurus:heterogeneous
    • 1959, Anthony Burgess, Beds in the East (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 584:
      "I've got catholic tastes. Catholic with a small "c", of course."
    • 2003, Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything; The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, New York: Oxford University Press, page 72:
      He was omnivorous in his appetite for knowledge, quite catholic in his range of interests []
  5. (of medicines or remedies, obsolete) Universally applicable.
  6. Of universal human interest or use.
    • c. 1625, John Donne, edited by Evelyn M. Simpson and George R. Potter, The Sermons of John Donne[1], volume 7, Berkeley: University of California Press, published 1962, page 51:
      And as the whole booke of Psalmes is Oleum efjusum, (as the Spouse speaks of the name of Christ) an Oyntment powred out upon all sorts of sores, A Searcloth that souples all bruises, A Balme that searches all wounds; so are there some certaine Psalmes, that are Imperiall Psalmes, that command over all affections, and spread themselves over all occasions, Catholique, universall Psalmes, that apply themselves to all necessities.
    • 1868, James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects[2], 3rd edition, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., page 363:
      And this vast number is but a selection ; the editors chose only out of the mass before them what was most noteworthy and trustworthy, and what was of catholic rather than of national interest.

Usage notes[edit]

Derived terms[edit]