Definition of Byzantine in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbizənˌtēn/
Pronunciation: /ˈbizənˌtīn/


1Relating to Byzantium, the Byzantine Empire, or the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Example sentences
  • With the exception of the Maronites and Byzantine Italians, each Eastern church has its mirror image on both the Catholic and Orthodox side.
  • An immense corpus of commentary grew up in Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine times around Dionysius' brief text.
  • What you are seeing in these churches is a reflection of the long tradition of Eastern Christianity, in both its Orthodox Christian and Byzantine Catholic variants.
1.1Of an ornate artistic and architectural style that developed in the Byzantine Empire and spread especially to Italy and Russia. The art is generally rich and stylized (as in religious icons) and the architecture typified by many-domed, highly decorated churches.
Example sentences
  • Other rooms have a distinctively oriental flavour; the Throne Room is decked out in ornate Byzantine style with a great domed blue ceiling covered with stars and a huge sunburst.
  • Within the gallery, no explanation was given of how the Byzantine style or which Byzantine style arrived in northern Europe.
  • The interior is therefore a shock: instead of Byzantine frescoes, an ornate altar at the west end and a mosaic floor, there is empty space.
2 (also byzantine) (Of a system or situation) excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail: Byzantine insurance regulations
More example sentences
  • And because of a Byzantine system for handling receipts, it's difficult to track specific expenses.
  • Protectionism, a lack of standards, and indifference toward backward and sideways thinking can create Byzantine systems that interfere with the user.
  • The organisers have set up an extensive network of international art pavilions in record time, on a reduced budget and amidst a Byzantine bureaucracy.
2.1Characterized by deviousness or underhanded procedure: Byzantine intrigues he has the most Byzantine mind in politics
More example sentences
  • This might normally have been the end of the matter but Nick, steeped in the Byzantine politics of the British ultra-left, thought there might be more to the excuse than first appeared.
  • There were two Scots and one Irishman at very senior levels advising the bid team, being no strangers to the Byzantine politics of European football.
  • It was in the face of these Byzantine internal politics that the four Scottish courses still in contention awoke yesterday morning to the erroneous news Celtic Manor had already been awarded the Cup.


A citizen of Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire.
Example sentences
  • To the Italians, the Greek-speaking Byzantines were Greeks, like the Greek inhabitants of southern Italy.
  • In the 6th century, when the Byzantines attempted to reconquer the Western Empire, a brief period of direct Byzantine trade with Britain seems to have occurred.
  • Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Vandals, Normans, Arabs, Turks, Spanish and French all laid their mark on the island.



Pronunciation: /bəˈzantəˌnizəm/ Pronunciation: /bī-/
Example sentences
  • Australian governance should never be allowed to descend into anything resembling the bureaucratic Byzantinism and indifference to the individual that are characteristic of less developed polities.
  • German radical nationalists condemned courtly Byzantinism, and demanded the elevation of all parts of the nation to consultation and participation in national matters - paradoxically through a strong leader.
  • But for this interest to make a positive contribution to the struggle there has to be a break with the negative side, the Byzantinism and the obtuseness.


Late 16th century (denoting a bezant, a Byzantine coin): from Latin Byzantinus, from Byzantium.

Words that rhyme with Byzantine

adamantine, elephantine

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Byz·an·tine

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.