Definition of uncial in English:


Pronunciation /ˈənsēəl/ /ˈənsiəl/ /ˈən(t)SH(ə)l/ /ˈən(t)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.

    • ‘Apparently, ‘cursive’ writing replaced ‘uncial’ writing in the 8th century.’
    upper-case, block
  • 2rare Relating to an inch or an ounce.

    • ‘The uncial system was adopted by the Greeks of Sicily.’


  • 1An uncial letter or script.

    ‘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.’
    capital letter, upper-case letter, block capital
    1. 1.1A manuscript in uncial script.
      • ‘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’. uncial (sense 1 of the adjective) is in the late Latin sense of unciales litterae ‘uncial letters’, the original application of which is unclear.