views updated May 17 2018

crown / kroun/ • n. 1. a circular ornamental headdress worn by a monarch as a symbol of authority, usually made of or decorated with precious metals and jewels. ∎  (the Crown) the reigning monarch, representing a country's government. ∎  (usu. the Crown) the power or authority residing in the monarchy. ∎  an ornament, emblem, or badge shaped like a crown. ∎  a wreath of leaves or flowers, esp. that worn as an emblem of victory in ancient Greece or Rome. ∎  an award or distinction gained by a victory or achievement, esp. in sports: the world heavyweight crown.2. the top or highest part of something: the crown of the hill. ∎  the top part of a person's head or a hat. ∎  the part of a plant just above and below the ground from which the roots and shoots branch out. ∎  the upper branching or spreading part of a tree or other plant. ∎  the upper part of a cut gem, above the girdle. ∎  the part of a tooth projecting from the gum. ∎  an artificial replacement or covering for the upper part of a tooth. ∎  the point of an anchor at which the arms reach the shaft.3. (also crown piece) a British coin with a face value of five shillings or 25 pence, now minted only for commemorative purposes. ∎  a foreign coin with a name meaning ‘crown,’ esp. the krona or krone.4. (in full metric crown) a paper size, now standardized at 384 × 504 mm. ∎  (in full crown octavo) a book size, now standardized at 186 × 123 mm. ∎  (in full crown quarto) a book size, now standardized at 246 × 189 mm.• v. [tr.] 1. (usu. be crowned) ceremonially place a crown on the head of (someone) in order to invest them as a monarch. ∎  declare or acknowledge (someone) as the best, esp. at a sport: he was crowned world champion. ∎  (in checkers) promote (a piece) to king by placing another on top of it. ∎  rest on or form the top of: the distant knoll was crowned with trees. ∎  fit a crown to (a tooth). ∎ inf. hit on the head.2. be the triumphant culmination of (an effort or endeavor, esp. a prolonged one): years of struggle were crowned by a state visit to Paris.3. [intr.] (of a baby's head during labor) fully appear in the vaginal opening prior to emerging.PHRASES: crowning glory the best and most notable aspect of something.


views updated May 21 2018


CROWN . The significance of the crown lies chiefly in its place on top of the head, where it marks the bearer's relationship to what is above, to what is transcendent. At the same time the crown represents the joining of what is above to what is below, the divine and the human, the celestial and the terrestrial. The crown symbolizes access to rank and to superior force, and therefore to dignity, royalty, and power.

From a very early time crowns were associated with the sun, especially with its rays. On a third-century bas relief from the Roman city of Virunum the sun is shown receiving his radiant crown from Mithra, who has beat him in a wrestling match. In alchemy the spirits of the planets receive their light in the form of crowns from their king, the sun. In the ancient religions of Mexico and Egypt, the king in his divine aspect is the sun.

The crown's meaning can also be discovered in its circular shape, which signifies perfection and eternity. The material of the crown may represent the divinity with which its wearer is associated or even assimilated. Thus, the laurel wreath often related its wearer to Apollo, while oak leaves were emblems of Zeus. At the end of the harvest in Europe celebrants have traditionally worn wreaths of ears of grain.

During a Tibetan ceremony that seeks to eliminate the spirits of the dead, the priest wears a crown that guarantees the cosmic worth of the sacrifice by bringing together symbolically the five Buddhas and the material universe, as well as the four cardinal points with their center. In the West the Crown of Charlemagne, made for Otto I, founder of the Holy Roman Empire, is octagonal in shape, recalling the walls of Rome and the ramparts of heaven.

Crowns, often in the form of wreaths, have been awarded to victors in war or contests where the honored hero is identified with a divine patron of the contest or with a warrior god. Another religious dimension is added whenas in Mithraism and Christianitythe souls of the elect are crowned like athletes or soldiers as victors over death.

In some religious sacrifices the sacrificer wears a crown; in others the victims, even animal victims, do the same. The dead may also be crowned: in Egypt both the mummy and the statue that represented the deceased were crowned for the triumphant entry into the next life. In Christianity the crowning of martyrs is often pictured: the wearer of the crown is always related through it to a greater transcendent power.

Objects, as well as persons, can be crowned. Holy scriptures, icons, pictures, and statues are frequently honored and dedicated with crowns. Crowns sometimes assume significance independent of the crowned. Among the Yoruba of West Africa sheep were occasionally sacrificed to the crown, which had magical powers. In ancient Egypt a crown or diadem representing the highest sovereignty could execute the king's secret purpose or inflict vengeance. In one version of the legend of Ariadne and Theseus, a crown of light guides Theseus through the labyrinth after he has killed the Minotaur.


The image of the crown appears extensively in most religious literature, but no single source begins to explore the whole range of material with both examples and interpretation. G. F. Hill's long essay, "Crowns," in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, vol. 4 (Edinburgh, 1911), describes mostly Western history and tradition and says relatively little about the religious symbolism of the crown. Nonetheless, the article is good background material. J. E. Cirlot, in A Dictionary of Symbols, 2d ed. (New York, 1971), and Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, in their Dictionnaire des symboles (Paris, 1982), have written interesting discussions without pretending to cover the subject.

New Sources

Joseph Lowin. "Crown: A Hebrew Lesson." Jewish Heritage Online Magazine 6 (November 2003). Available from http://www.jhom/hebrew/crown_h.html.

Elaine Magalis (1987)

Revised Bibliography


views updated May 21 2018

crown a crown is the emblem of St Louis, St Olaf, St Wenceslas, and other royal saints.

The expression the Crown is used for the reigning monarch representing a country's government, or the power or authority residing in the monarchy.

The word is recorded from Middle English, and comes ultimately (via Anglo-Norman French and Old French) from Latin corona ‘wreath, chaplet’.
Crown jewels the crown and other ornaments and jewellery worn or carried by the sovereign on certain state occasions; the phrase is first recorded in English in the 17th century, in Milton's Eikonoklastes (1649).
Crown of St Stephen the crown of the sovereigns of Hungary, which according to tradition was presented to St Stephen of Hungary by Pope Sylvester II.
crown of thorns the circlet of thorns with which Christ was crowned in mockery, as recounted in John 19:2. The crown of thorns is one of the Instruments of the Passion, and may be used figuratively to indicate undeserved humiliation and suffering.

See also no cross, no crown, triple crown.


views updated May 23 2018

1. Head of any part of a building, especially of an arch or vault (including the keystone and about the middle third of the arc), called crown of an arch, and embracing both intrados and extrados.

2. Apse at the east end of a church.

3. Decorative termination in which a spire is replaced by four flying buttresses rising from pinnacles at the corners of a tower, meeting in the middle and supporting a slender spirelet that rests entirely upon the buttresses: good examples are at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh (c.1486), St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne (c.1475), and St Dunstan-in-the-East, London (1697—based on a medieval precedent at St Mary-le-Bow, London (destroyed) ).


views updated May 29 2018

crown circlet, wreath, etc., worn on the head XII; †tonsure; vertex of the skull XIII; various coins, orig. bearing the figure of a crown XV; top, summit XVI. ME. c(o)rune (superseding OE. corona) — AN. corune, OF. corone (mod. couronne) :- L. corōna wreath, chaplet — Gr. korṓnē anything bent (korōnís crown), rel. to curvus bent (see CURVE).
So crown vb. XII. — AN. coruner, OF. coroner (mod. couronner) :- L. corōnāre; cf. CORONATION.


views updated May 23 2018

crown (krown) n.
1. the part of a tooth normally visible in the mouth and usually covered by enamel.

2. a dental restoration that covers most or all of the natural crown.

3. see corona.


views updated May 17 2018

crown. See monarchy.

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