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Borrowed from French monolithe, from Latin monolithus (consisting of a single stone), from Ancient Greek μονόλιθος (monólithos), from μόνος (mónos, single, alone) + λίθος (líthos, stone); synchronically, mono- +‎ -lith.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɒ.nə.lɪθ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɑ.nə.lɪθ/
  • (file)


monolith (plural monoliths)

  1. A large single block of stone, used in architecture and sculpture.
    • 2012 January 1, Henry Petroski, “The Washington Monument”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 1, page 16:
      The Washington Monument is often described as an obelisk, and sometimes even as a “true obelisk,” even though it is not. A true obelisk is a monolith, a pylon formed out of a single piece of stone.
  2. Anything massive, uniform and unmovable.
    • 1996, Femi Ojo-Ade, Being Black, Being Human: More Essays on Black Culture (page 157)
      For whatever reason, one knows that the Senegalese poet-president became the Father of the ideology, cleverly weaving a network of cultural contributions and atavistic, essential, and behavioral components into a kind of black monolith hardly acceptable to anyone.
  3. (chemistry, chromatography) A continuous stationary-phase cast as a homogeneous column in a single piece.

Derived terms[edit]


  • (anything massive, uniform and unmovable): chimera


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