Definition of altar in English:



  • 1The table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services.

    • ‘I then spent a sufficient amount of time in the cathedral admiring the altar and ceiling.’
    • ‘Much of the gold and silver was used in the production of ecclesiastical items such as altar-crosses, reliquaries, and portative altars; the church being the client who could afford such wonderful pieces of work.’
    • ‘In addition to Christian icons, several altars had symbols from other cultural contexts, such as Native American and African figurines and images.’
    • ‘When it is available for viewing, one marvels at every tiny thread hand-knotted into incredibly intricate patterns, forming delicate swaths long and wide enough to wrap around cathedral altars.’
    • ‘I want to see William standing by the altar of the church that I've attended since I was a child.’
    • ‘He referred not so much to architectural form as to dedication of three altars in one church as symbolising the three persons in the consubstantial unity of God.’
    • ‘What Christ offered in hanging upon the cross for mankind, we recreate at Holy Mass, since He is again sacrificed on our altars.’
    • ‘A representative of each family is invited to place a candle on the altar during the service.’
    • ‘Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture.’
    • ‘The altar of his church in Bridgewater Street is adorned with the national flag.’
    • ‘In addition, above the altar in the side chapel, the church has placed a large painting by Mr Willson.’
    • ‘At the centre you see two large, flat-topped boulders which look like an altar in a cathedral nave.’
    • ‘His mice are to be found everywhere: scurrying across church pews and altars, sitting on oak ashtrays, inside clock cases and on oak bookends, even peeking out from beneath oak dining tables and chairs designed for grand country homes.’
    • ‘His rise to local prominence was due to the dextrous performance of magic on the altars of his church and elsewhere.’
    • ‘Offerings to saints - intended to promote healing - hang on strings near many church altars.’
    • ‘With the rise of private Masses, chapels began to bulge out from the laterals of the church and altars began to be recessed against the walls.’
    • ‘The stained glass windows behind the altar in Glann Church are in need of repair.’
    • ‘Our parishioner had lived through the removal, replacement and removal again of altars and stained-glass windows.’
    • ‘There the parochial system was concentrated and efficient, and parish churches could provide altars at which clergy could offer up soul-prayers.’
    • ‘Gifts of flowers or donations for flowers for the altars in Raheen Parish Church for Easter will be very welcome.’
    holy place, temple, church, chapel, tabernacle, sanctuary, sanctum
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    1. 1.1 A table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.
      • ‘But throughout the Old Testament we find human beings coming to God and finding fellowship with him at altars where sacrifices were made.’
      • ‘The decree requires that the priests and priestesses of Kolophon visit the altars in the old agora to acknowledge the ties between the old site and the current site of the city.’
      • ‘Aromatics were to become so popular, that a special edict was declared in 30 A.D. that forbade the personal use of exotic scents as the supplies for use on ritual altars were growing scarce.’
      • ‘If it is certain that Maya altars received offerings or ritual goods, the particular ritual actions performed at these stones remains wholly unclear.’
      • ‘Every city-state had temples to its patron deity and shrines and altars to many others.’
      • ‘It is the isolated Pagans who need to know they are not alone and that there is someplace they can get the items they need for their altars, rituals and everyday life as well as sorely needed moral support.’
      • ‘Also, if you aren't comfortable with shamanic or astral journeys to commune with the spirits/gods of your choice then small altars to them are a great way to show them good will.’
      • ‘The African village required construction of yellow and black native huts, palisades, sacrificial altars, and jungle backdrop.’
      • ‘Ancient rituals have been revived, sacrificial altars rebuilt and lunar patterns observed with increasing attention.’
      • ‘The fire altars symbolized the universe and there were three types of altars representing the earth, the atmosphere and the sky.’
      • ‘Later petitioners laid offerings of food on the altar in front of the deity's statue.’
      • ‘The mathematics given in the Sulbasutras is there to enable the accurate construction of altars needed for sacrifices.’
      • ‘They lay fruit and gifts at the altar and light joss sticks as the local shaman begins the ceremony.’
      • ‘In the absence of ancestral halls in the United States, they perform rituals at miniature altars at home and in the place of business and in sanctuaries found in district and family associations in Chinatowns.’
      • ‘Inside, I made straight for the altar of Jowo Sakyamuni and placed my offering of fresh flowers and fruits.’
      • ‘Vedic Indians solved square roots in order to build sacrificial altars of the proper size.’
      • ‘The requirements for altars, incense, and offerings were described to Moses by God.’
      • ‘Many religious practitioners create altars that are associated with crossed practices.’
      • ‘The Buddha is not a god but the place teems with statues and altars to him.’
      • ‘Perseus made three altars and three sacrifices - one to Mercury, one to Jove, and one to Athene - for their assistance in his battles against Medusa, Atlas, and the sea monster.’


  • lead someone to the altar

    • Marry someone.

      • ‘He put the ring on her finger, then stood up and took her hand and lead her to the altar, which was actually the podium.’
      • ‘If true love is all we have to lead us to the altar, then marriage is surely a dying tradition.’
      • ‘But it was their impromptu meeting at a Caribbean Cup match at the Arima Velodrome in 1997 which eventually led them to the altar on January 2, 1999.’
      • ‘Having done this, they were led to the altar, made oblations there, and ‘returned to themselves.’’
      • ‘Then, a few scenes later, we see him smiling through his tears as he leads her to the altar.’
      be married to, get married to, marry, be wed to, take as one's husband, take as one's wife, lead to the altar
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  • sacrifice someone/something on/at the altar of someone/something

    • Make someone or something suffer in the interests of.

      ‘no businessman is going to sacrifice his company on the altar of such altruism’
      • ‘As far as television coverage is concerned, hockey is being sacrificed at the altar of cricket.’
      • ‘In the display of free and fair elections, the party was sacrificed at the altar of the interest of the nation.’
      • ‘One of the earliest and most helpful comments I received criticized me, basically, of sacrificing the truth at the altar of revisionist multicultural relevance.’
      • ‘Private freedoms are being sacrificed on the altar of public expediency.’
      • ‘We are concerned about the thousands of Kiwi jobs that will be sacrificed on the altar of free trade.’
      • ‘The rights of women should not be sacrificed on the altar of multi-culturalism.’
      • ‘Nothing is forced, and in the mode of European cinema plot is sacrificed at the altar of character.’
      • ‘The producer knew that this was going to be his shot and so we were sacrificed on the altar of his career.’
      • ‘The Kok report tries to do away with a belief that jobs need to be sacrificed at the altar of economic growth.’
      • ‘Emotional bonding between mother and child was sacrificed at the feminist altar of power.’


Old English altar, alter, based on late Latin altar, altarium, from Latin altus ‘high’.