- 2a New World songbird of the bunting family, with a stout bill and typically with a conspicuous crest. The male is partly or mostly red in color.
- Family Emberizidae, subfamily Cardinalinae (the cardinal grosbeak subfamily): four genera and several species, especially the northern (or common) cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), the male of which is scarlet with a black face. This subfamily also includes American grosbeaks, buntings, and saltators
Old English, from Latin cardinalis, from cardo, cardin- 'hinge'. cardinal (sense 1 of the noun) has arisen through the notion of the important function of such priests as “pivots” of church life