[bizuh n-teen, -tahyn, bahy-zuh n-, bih-zan-tin]

See more synonyms for Byzantine on Thesaurus.com

  1. of or relating to Byzantium .
  2. of or relating to the Byzantine Empire .
  3. noting or pertaining to the architecture of the Byzantine Empire and to architecture influenced by or imitating it: characterized by masonry construction, round arches, impost blocks, low domes on pendentives, the presence of fine, spiky foliage patterns in low relief on stone capitals and moldings, and the use of frescoes, mosaics, and revetments of fine stone to cover whole interiors.
  4. Explore Dictionary.com

    • The 2018 Word of the Year is...The 2018 Word of the Year is…
    • Can You Translate These Famous Phrases From Emoji?Can You Translate These Famous Phrases From Emoji?
    • These Are the Longest Words in EnglishThese Are the Longest Words in English
    • These Are the Saddest Phrases in EnglishThese Are the Saddest Phrases in English
  5. Fine Arts. pertaining to or designating the style of the fine or decorative arts developed and elaborated in the Byzantine Empire and its provinces: characterized chiefly by an ecclesiastically prescribed iconography, highly formal structure, severe confinement of pictorial space to a shallow depth, and the use of rich, often sumptuous color.
  6. (sometimes lowercase) complex or intricate: a deal requiring Byzantine financing.
  7. (sometimes lowercase) characterized by elaborate scheming and intrigue, especially for the gaining of political power or favor: Byzantine methods for holding on to his chairmanship.
  8. of or relating to the Byzantine Church .
  1. a native or inhabitant of Byzantium.

Origin of Byzantine

1590–1600; < Late Latin Bȳzantīnus of Byzantium ; see -ine1
Related formspre-Byz·an·tine, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for byzantine

daedal , complicated , convoluted , detailed , devious , difficult , elaborate , intricate , involved , labyrinthine , tortuous

Examples from the Web for byzantine

Contemporary Examples of byzantine

  • Rather, it precipitated a month-long diplomatic crisis of byzantine complexity that exposed deeper, long-term sources of conflict.

    The Daily Beast logo

    Barbara Tuchman’s ‘The Guns of August’ Is Still WWI’s Peerless Chronicle

    James A. Warren

    September 29, 2014

  • Yalta was great for strolls along the sea during the Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian empires.

    The Daily Beast logo

    Putin's Crimea Is a Big Anti-Gay Casino

    Anna Nemtsova

    September 8, 2014

  • American multinational companies may be best known today for their byzantine strategies to minimize their U.S. taxes.

    The Daily Beast logo

    America’s Economy Is Outperforming Rivals Because the U.S. Is Excelling at Globalization

    Robert Shapiro

    June 8, 2013

  • The Daily Pic: In Milan, circa 1490, a Byzantine ruler puts on Ottoman robes.

    The Daily Beast logo

    When the Romans Were Turks

    Blake Gopnik

    August 30, 2012

  • Our job creators would also benefit from fundamental tax reform that would simplify and flatten our Byzantine tax code.

    The Daily Beast logo

    Time to Jump-Start the Economy

    Thomas J. Donohue

    September 12, 2011

Historical Examples of byzantine

  • The chapter on Byzantine Architecture is entirely from his pen.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople

    Alexander Van Millingen

  • Such irregularities are inherent in the Byzantine methods of building.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople

    Alexander Van Millingen

  • This was the last effort of pure Byzantine architecture in Constantinople.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople

    Alexander Van Millingen

  • It is to be found in this sense, I think, in almost all the Byzantine historians.

    Shakespeare Jest-Books;


  • The testimony of inscriptions corroborates that of the Byzantine writer.

    The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism

    Franz Cumont

British Dictionary definitions for byzantine


  1. of, characteristic of, or relating to Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire
  2. of, relating to, or characterizing the Orthodox Church or its rites and liturgy
  3. of or relating to the highly coloured stylized form of religious art developed in the Byzantine Empire
  4. of or relating to the style of architecture developed in the Byzantine Empire, characterized by massive domes with square bases, rounded arches, spires and minarets, and the extensive use of mosaics
  5. denoting the Medieval Greek spoken in the Byzantine Empire
  6. (of attitudes, etc) inflexible or complicated
  1. an inhabitant of Byzantium
Derived FormsByzantinism (bɪˈzæntaɪˌnɪzəm, -tiː, baɪ-, ˈbɪzəntiːˌnɪzəm, -taɪ-), noun
Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for byzantine



1770, from Latin Byzantinus (see Byzantium ); originally used of art style; later in reference to the complex, devious, and intriguing character of the royal court of Constantinople (1937). As a noun from 1770.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Others Are Reading

Word of the Day


  • Words We Get Wrong: How Many of These Can You Say?Words We Get Wrong: How Many of These Can You Say?
  • Did You Know Real People Write the Dictionary?Did You Know Real People Write the Dictionary?

  • Blog
  • BuzzWord
  • Open Dictionary
    • Recent Entries
    • Add a Word
    • About
  • Games
  • Resources
    • Infographics
    • Quizzes
    • Games
    • Puzzles
    • Pragmatics
    • Real Grammar
    • Real Vocabulary
    • Real World English
    • Celebrate Shakespeare
    • English Humour
    • Glossary
    • Spelling Guide
    • Survey
    • Videos
    • Wordlists
    • More Resources
  • API
  • More
    • About
    • Options
    • Gadgets
    • Red Words and Stars
    • Clear Definitions
    • Real Examples
    • Thesaurus
    • Partners
    • FAQ
  • About
  • Blog
  • BuzzWord
  • Open Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • New Words
  • Social Media
  • Language Resources
  • Quizzes
  • Real Grammar
  • Real Vocabulary
  • Real World English
  • FAQ
  • Options

Macmillan Dictionary

Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

Show more

Show less

byzantine – definition and synonyms

  • Using the thesaurus

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.


adjective formal 

 byzantine pronunciation in British English

 Contribute to our Open Dictionary

  1. complicated and difficult to understand

    the byzantine power structure of the old department

     Synonyms and related words
    Complicated and difficult to understand: complicated , difficult , complex …

    Explore Thesaurus

This is the British English definition of byzantine.
View American English definition of byzantine.

Change your default dictionary to American English.

View the pronunciation for byzantine.





comedy gold

a piece of entertainment, joke, situation or person that is extremely funny

BuzzWord Article

More BuzzWords

  • amazeballs
  • showmance
  • hygge
  • stacking
  • chainwatch
  • mic drop
  • plothole
  • 4-D
  • chap hop
BuzzWord archive

Open Dictionary

imposter syndrome

a feeling many successful people have, that they don’t deserve to be successful or famous and will be found out

add a word

More submissions

  • chelator
  • dinothere
  • persiflage
  • LARPer
  • eld
  • jacaranda
  • Saskatoon berry
  • inspirer
  • crowd-puller
view entries


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog

Definition and synonyms of byzantine from the online English dictionary from Macmillan Education.

Macmillan logo
  • © Springer Nature Limited 2009–2018
  • Index
  • Privacy
  • Cookies Policy
  • Contact
  • Terms and Conditions


Macmillan learn live love play