Definition of uncial in English:


Line breaks: un¦cial
Pronunciation: /ˈʌnsɪəl
, -ʃ(ə)l/


  • 1Of or written in a majuscule script with rounded unjoined letters which is found in European manuscripts of the 4th-8th centuries and from which modern capital letters are derived.
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    • Apparently, ‘cursive’ writing replaced ‘uncial’ writing in the 8th century.
  • 2 rare Relating to an inch or an ounce.
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    • The uncial system was adopted by the Greeks of Sicily.


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  • 1An uncial letter or script.
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    • The codices produced in this period bear display scripts in capitals and uncials executed in double tracing, and are also remarkable for the narrowing of certain letter-forms like for instance the ‘O’.
    • High-grade book scripts were angular square capitals suited to inscriptions and the chisel, more fluid rustic capitals and rounded uncials suited to the pen.
  • 1.1A manuscript in uncial script.
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    • Because minuscules are generally later than uncials, and also because they were easier to produce, minuscule copies outnumber uncials of the New Testament in a ratio of ten to one.


mid 17th century: from Latin uncialis, from uncia 'inch'. sense 1 of the adjective is in the late Latin sense of unciales litterae 'uncial letters', the original application of which is unclear.

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