CARDINAL, adjective Chief, principal, preeminent, or fundamental; as the cardinal virtues, which Pagans supposed to be justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.
1. An ecclesiastical prince in the Romish church, who has a voice in the conclave at the election of a Pope, who is taken from their number. The cardinals are divided into three classes or orders, containing six bishops, fifty priests, and fourteen deacons, making seventy. These constitute the sacred college, and compose the Popes council. Originally they were subordinate in rank to bishops; but they have now the precedence. The dress of a cardinal is a red soutaine or cassock, a rocket, a short purple mantle and a red hat.
2. A womans cloke.
CARDINAL-flower, a plant of the genus Lobelia, of many species. They are fibrous-rooted perennials, rising from two to five or six feet high, with erect stalks, ornamented with oblong, oval, spear-shaped simple leaves, and spikes of beautiful monopetalous flowers of scarlet, blue and violet colors. The natives of this country use a decoction of one species, the siphilitica, as a remedy in the venereal disease.
CARDINAL numbers, are the numbers, one, two, three, etc., in distinction from first, second, third, etc., which are called ordinal numbers.
CARDINAL points, in cosmography, are the four intersections of the horizon with the meridian, and the prime vertical circle, or North and South, East and West. In astrology, the cardinal points are the rising and setting of the sun, the zenith and nadir.
CARDINAL signs, in astronomy, are Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn.
CARDINAL winds, are those which blow from the cardinal points.