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

  • n. A monk's sleeveless outer garment that hangs from the shoulders and sometimes has a cowl.
  • n. A badge worn by affiliates of certain religious orders, consisting of two pieces of cloth joined by shoulder bands and worn under the clothing on the chest and back.
  • n. One of the feathers covering the shoulder of a bird.
  • adj. Anatomy Of or relating to the shoulder or scapula.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A cloth talisman, usually with an embroidered image of a saint, worn around the neck.
  • n. One of a special group of feathers which arise from each of the scapular regions and lie along the sides of the back.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the scapula or the shoulder.
  • n. One of a special group of feathers which arise from each of the scapular regions and lie along the sides of the back.
  • n.
  • n. A loose sleeveless vestment falling in front and behind, worn by certain religious orders and devout persons.
  • n. The name given to two pieces of cloth worn under the ordinary garb and over the shoulders as an act of devotion.
  • n. A bandage passing over the shoulder to support it, or to retain another bandage in place.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to the shoulders or the shoulder-blades; pertaining to the scapula (in any sense), or to scapulars. Also scapulary.
  • Posterior, the continuation of the transversalis colli along the vertebral border of the scapula as far as the inferior angle.
  • n. A short cloak with a hood, apparently confined to monastic orders, and among them the garment for use while at work, etc., as distinguished from a fuller and longer robe; hence, specifically, a long narrow strip of cloth, covering the shoulders and hanging down before and behind to the knees, worn by certain religious orders; two small pieces of cloth connected by strings, and worn over the shoulders by lay persons in the Roman Catholic Church, as a token of devotion, in honor of the Virgin Mary, etc.
  • n. In surgery, a bandage for the shoulder-blade. Also scapulary.
  • n. In ornithology, the bundle of feathers which springs from the pteryla humeralis or humeral tract, at or near the shoulder, and lies along the side of the back; the shoulder-feathers: generally used in the plural. Also scapulary. See cut under covert.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a feather covering the shoulder of a bird
  • n. garment consisting of a long wide piece of woolen cloth worn over the shoulders with an opening for the head; part of a monastic habit
  • adj. relating to or near the shoulder blade


Middle English scapulare, from Late Latin scapulāre, from neuter of scapulāris, pertaining to the shoulders or scapulae, from scapula, shoulder; see scapula.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin scapulāre, from Latin scapula ("shoulder"). Compare scapulary. (Wiktionary)



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  • In various Christian traditions the term scapular is also applied to a small devotional artifact worn by male and female non-monastics in the belief that this will be of spiritual benefit to them. The Roman Catholic Church considers it a sacramental. It consists of two small squares of cloth, wood or laminated paper, bearing religious images or text, which are joined by two bands of cloth. The wearer places one square on the chest, rests the bands one on each shoulder and lets the second square drop down the back.

    February 4, 2008