Definition of cardinal adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

cardinal

 adjective
adjective
BrE BrE//ˈkɑːdɪnl//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈkɑːrdɪnl//
 
 
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[only before noun] (formal) most important; having other things based on it Respect for life is a cardinal principle of English law. Word Origin Old English, from Latin cardinalis, from cardo, cardin- ‘hinge’. Sense (1) has arisen through the notion of the important function of such priests as “pivots” of church life.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: cardinal