Word of the Day



a large candlestick or light that holds several candles or small lights

Origin and usage

The word candelabra became popularly used from the early 1800s. Since that time, however, the term has changed from the traditional ‘candelabrum’ as singular and ‘candelabra’ as the plural to the now more common singular of candelabra and the plural candelabras.


The earliest versions of the candelabra were designed by the Romans who used these as an elegant form of ornamental lighting. Archaeological digs of well-preserved ancient sites like Pompeii contain numerous examples of candelabras, which suggests that they were probably a common household item. More elaborate examples of candelabras, such as those used in public buildings, were often made of marble or bronze with lavish ornamentation. They were later featured in famous works by Renaissance artists.

Although candle lighting has mostly come to be replaced by electrical fixtures in the modern age, the candelabra design is still incredibly popular. This is especially true in the case of chandeliers, which are essentially candelabras fitted with lights and suspended from a ceiling.


“The mullein had finished blooming, and stood up out of the pastures like dusty candelabra.”

(Elizabeth Enright)

“This armoire, we are prone to recall, is the very one in which we hid as a boy; and it was these silver candelabra that lined our table on Christmas Eve; and it was with this handkerchief that she once dried her tears, et cetera, et cetera. Until we imagine that these carefully preserved possessions might give us genuine solace in the face of a lost companion. But, of course, a thing is just a thing.”

(Amor Towles)


beacon, candlestick

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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