from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The wide-sleeved garment worn over the alb by a deacon, cardinal, bishop, or abbot at the celebration of Mass.
  • n. A wide-sleeved garment worn by an English monarch at his or her coronation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A long wide-sleeved tunic, which serves as a liturgical vestment in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches and is worn by a deacon at the Eucharist or Mass and, although infrequently, by bishops as an undergarment above the alb.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A loose-fitting ecclesiastical vestment with wide sleeves, provided with an opening for the passage of the head, divided or left partly open at the sides, and reaching to or below the knee.
  • n. The imperial mantle, resembling the ecclesiastical dalmatic, worn by kings and emperors at coronation and on other important occasions.


Middle English dalmatik, from Old French dalmatique, from Medieval Latin dalmatica (vestis), Dalmatian (garment) (originally made of white wool from Dalmatia), from Latin dalmaticus, of Dalmatia.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French dalmatique, from Latin, derived ultimately from the name of the province of Dalmatia. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Woof! The same root as "Dalmation," though I doubt Disney's going to make a movie of 101 Dalmatics!

    a wide-sleeved, long, loose vestment open at the sides, worn by deacons and bishops, and by some monarchs at their coronation.

    ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French dalmatique or late Latin dalmatica, from dalmatica (vestis) ‘(robe) of (white) Dalmatian wool,’ from Dalmaticus ‘of Dalmatia.’

    (Oxford American English Dictionary)

    It's a curious vestment in that it's worn by deacons and bishops but not by priests. I wonder if the dalmatic is indicative of the special relationship between deacons and bishops.

    June 7, 2009