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anything considered to be an important or characteristic virtue:
Tenacity is his cardinal virtue.
cardinal virtues, Ancient Philosophy. justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude.


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  • Cardinal veins

    cardinal veins cardinal veins pl.n. Any of three major systemic venous channels in certain adult vertebrates and in the embryos of other vertebrates, such as humans. Historical Examples On the development of the cardinal veins (to be described below) considerable changes are effected in the subintestinal vein. The Works of Francis Maitland Balfour, Volume III […]

  • Cardinal-vowel

    any one of eight primary, purportedly invariant, sustained vowel sounds that constitute a reference set for describing the vowel inventory of a language. any one of the eight or more supplementary or secondary cardinal vowels.

  • Cardinals

    of prime importance; chief; principal: of cardinal significance. of the color cardinal. Roman Catholic Church. a high ecclesiastic appointed by the pope to the College of Cardinals and ranking above every other ecclesiastic but the pope. Also called cardinal grosbeak. a crested grosbeak, Cardinalis cardinalis, of North America, the male of which is bright red. […]

  • Cardinalate

    the body of cardinals. the office, rank, or dignity of a cardinal. Historical Examples On the deliberate exclusion of the humanists from the cardinalate by the popes before Leo, comp. The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy Jacob Burckhardt He died in 1638, just as the cardinalate was to be conferred upon him. Encyclopaedia Britannica, […]

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