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central,chief,first,greatest,highest,key,main,prime,principal

crucial,essential,fundamental,leading,paramount,pivotal,primary,significant

principal, minor, unimportant, trivial

cardinal

IPA

How to pronounce cardinal (audio)

Dictionary definition of cardinal

Of primary or fundamental importance, often serving as a key element or a central aspect of a particular situation, concept, or principle.
"The cardinal rule of the organization was never to compromise on quality."

Detailed meaning of cardinal

When a characteristic or quality is described as cardinal, it implies that it is essential, vital, or indispensable in shaping the nature or significance of the subject at hand. For example, in ethics, cardinal virtues like courage, justice, temperance, and wisdom are considered the fundamental virtues upon which moral principles are built. In mathematics, the cardinal numbers denote the basic numbers used for counting, such as 1, 2, 3, and so on. "Cardinal" emphasizes the critical and foundational role that something plays within a particular context, highlighting its primary significance and influence.

Example sentences of cardinal

1. The cardinal direction of north is often used as a reference point.
2. The cardinal sin of pride is considered one of the deadliest.
3. The cardinal color of red is associated with power and passion.
4. The cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance are considered the foundation of moral character.
5. The cardinal number zero is considered neither positive nor negative.
6. The cardinal function of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body.

History and etymology of cardinal

The adjective 'cardinal' has an etymology rooted in Latin. It is derived from the Latin word 'cardinalis,' which originally referred to a hinge or something pivotal. This term was extended to describe the four principal directions—north, south, east, and west—since these directions were seen as the 'hinges' or pivotal points for navigation and orientation. Over time, 'cardinalis' evolved to convey the idea of something of primary or fundamental importance, much like the cardinal directions were central to navigation. In its current usage, 'cardinal' describes key elements or central aspects of a particular situation, concept, or principle, emphasizing their fundamental and pivotal roles, while still reflecting its Latin origins in terms of significance and centrality.

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Further usage examples of cardinal

1. The cardinal migratory bird is a common sight in North America.
2. The cardinal direction of east is where the sun rises.
3. The cardinal point of the compass is used for navigation.
4. The cardinal flower is a distinctive and important symbol in various cultures.
5. The cardinal offense of theft is considered a crime in all societies.
6. Trust forms the cardinal pillar of strong relationships, grounded in honesty and respect.
7. Safety is the cardinal rule in firefighting, prioritizing lives and property protection.
8. Patience is a cardinal virtue in parenting, nurturing a child's growth and development.
9. Freedom is a cardinal principle of democracy, granting rights and a voice to citizens.
10. Empathy is a cardinal trait that fosters understanding and compassion for others.
11. Accountability is a cardinal concept in governance, ensuring transparency and responsibility.
12. Courage is a cardinal quality, enabling individuals to confront adversity with strength.
13. The cardinal theme of the story explores the complexity of human nature and redemption.
14. Responsibility is a cardinal duty in environmental stewardship, preserving our planet.
15. Truth is a cardinal value that guides ethical journalism and storytelling.
16. Kindness, a cardinal virtue, promotes harmony and goodwill among people.
17. Fairness is a cardinal principle that underpins just decision-making and equality.
18. Innovation serves as a cardinal force driving technological progress and growth.
19. Adaptability is a cardinal skill in navigating change and uncertainty effectively.
20. Diversification is a cardinal rule in investing for risk management and stability.
21. Education's cardinal goal is to equip students with knowledge for their future.
22. Compassion, a cardinal trait, strengthens communities and fosters empathy.
23. Trust is the cardinal element in building cohesive and high-performing teams.
24. Responsibility is a cardinal obligation in upholding ethical and moral standards.
25. Sustainability is a cardinal consideration in shaping a better future for our planet.

Synonyms

central
chief
first
greatest
highest
key
main
prime
principal

Quiz categories containing cardinal

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