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From Middle English chapiter, from Old French chapitre, from Latin capitulum (a chapter of a book, in Medieval Latin also a synod or council), diminutive of caput (a head); see capital, capitulum, and chapiter, which are doublets of chapter.





chapter (plural chapters)

  1. (authorship) One of the main sections into which the text of a book is divided.
    Detective novel writers try to keep up the suspense until the last chapter.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      At her invitation he outlined for her the succeeding chapters with terse military accuracy ; and what she liked best and best understood was avoidance of that false modesty which condescends, turning technicality into pabulum.
    1. A section of a work, a collection of works, or fragments of works, often manuscripts or transcriptions, created by scholars or advocates, not the original authors, to aid in finding portions of the texts.
      • 1842, Walter Farquahar Hook, A Church Dictionary, published 1896:
        CHAPTER - One of the principal divisions of a book, and, in reference to the Bible, one of the larger sections into which its books are divided. This division, as well as that consisting of verses, was introduced to facilitate reference, and not to indicate any natural or accurate division of the subjects treated in the books.
      • 1963, Charles Duggan, Twelfth-century Decretal Collections and Their Importance in English History, page 127:
        At least thirty-two of the first forty-seven decretal chapters were received by English ecclesiastics,
      • 1983, Revue théologique de Louvain - Volume 14, page 127:
        il conclut: « No pope, no collection but the masters who served the one and commented on the other ultimately determined the content of this decretal chapter».
      • 2017, Joshua Byron Smith, Walter Map and the Matter of Britain, page 67:
        But unlike a similar annotation, it has not been turned into a chapter title because the annotation “de quodam hermita” (Of a certain hermit) immediately preceded it. If a scribe had also turned Liberauit Dominus hermitam into a chapter title, he would have created a chapter that consisted of a single sentence, which even for a rather dull scribe would seem unacceptable. [] While scribe A wrote the body of the text of the De nugis curialium, scribe X contributed the rubricated chapter headings.
      • 2018, Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir, Emily Lethbridge, New Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Njáls saga, page xvii:
        While rubrics do not appear in paper manuscripts, eight paper manuscripts contain chapter titles, which serve the same function as the medieval rubrics.
      • 2018, David J. Hunt, A Textual History of Cicero's Academici Libri, page 152:
        Characteristics: parchment; 92 fols.; 260 × 180 mm.; 32 lines; Italy; ca. 1430; two hands: humanistic rotunda with some Gothic features; marginal notes by first hand and names by a second hand; space left for initials; rubric inscriptions; superscript variants by first hand; chapters marked in margin; horizontal catchwords; quaternions.
      • 2021, David T. Orique, The Unheard Voice of Law in Bartolomé de Las Casas’s Brevísima Relación de la Destruición de las Indias, page 97:
        From canon law, he cited Gratian's Decretum, Gregory's Decretales, the Sexto and Clementines Decretales, and the Extravagantes, and specifically referred to “the rules for understanding the Law” in a decretal chapter on Propterea.
  2. Certain ecclesiastical bodies (under canon law)
    1. An assembly of monks, prebendaries and/or other clergymen connected with a cathedral, conventual or collegiate church, or of a diocese, usually presided over by the dean.
    2. A community of canons or canonesses.
    3. A bishop's council.
  3. A section of a social body.
    1. An administrative division of an organization, usually local to a specific area.
    2. An organized branch of some society or fraternity, such as the Freemasons.
      • 1862, The Freemasons' Monthly Magazine:
        If the By-Law which admits honorary members is silent upon their rights, they may perhaps be determined by a consideration of which of these classes was intended by the Chapter in admitting them
  4. A meeting of certain organized societies or orders.
  5. A chapter house[1]
  6. A sequence (of events), especially when presumed related and likely to continue.
    • 1866, Wilkie Collins, Armadale, Book the Last, Chapter I,
      "You know that Mr. Armadale is alive," pursued the doctor, "and you know that he is coming back to England. Why do you continue to wear your widow's dress?" ¶ She answered him without an instant's hesitation, steadily going on with her work. ¶ "Because I am of a sanguine disposition, like you. I mean to trust to the chapter of accidents to the very last. Mr. Armadale may die yet, on his way home."
    • 1911, Bram Stoker, chapter 26, in The Lair of the White Worm:
      [] she determined to go on slowly towards Castra Regis, and trust to the chapter of accidents to pick up the trail again.
    • 2023 February 8, Tony Streeter, “Kirkdale: home to Merseyrail's new '777s'”, in RAIL, number 976, page 36:
      With the entry into service of the '777s', a new chapter opens in the long history of Merseyside's electric suburban railwsys.
  7. (obsolete) A location or compartment.
  8. (Roman Catholicism) A prescribed reading at one of the canonical hours.
    Synonym: capitule



Derived terms



  • Cebuano: tsapter


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also


Further reading




chapter (third-person singular simple present chapters, present participle chaptering, simple past and past participle chaptered)

  1. To divide into chapters.
  2. To put into a chapter.
  3. (military, with "out") To use administrative procedure to remove someone.
    • 2001, John Palmer Hawkins, Army of Hope, Army of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army Communities of Cold War Germany[1], page 117:
      If you're a single parent [soldier] and you can't find someone to take care of your children, they will chapter you out [administrative elimination from the service]. And yet if you use someone not certified, they get mad.
    • 2006, Thomas R. Schombert, Diaries of a Soldier: Nightmares from Within[2], page 100:
      "He also wanted me to give you a message. He said that if you don't get your shit ready for this deployment, then he will chapter you out of his freakin' army."
  4. (transitive) To take to task.


  1. ^ Alexander M[ansfield] Burrill (1850–1851) “CHAPTER”, in A New Law Dictionary and Glossary: [], volumes (please specify |part= or |volume=I or II), New York, N.Y.: John S. Voorhies, [], →OCLC.