One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A stone forming part of or constituting an altar; especially the slab forming the flat top or table of an altar.
2Specifically. In the Roman Catholic Church: a consecrated portable slab of marble or stone, typically containing a relic, which may be placed on or inserted into a larger altar or table, or can be used by a priest when Mass is said somewhere other than a church.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in William of Shoreham (fl. c1320), poet. From altar + stone.
altar stone/ˈɒltə stəʊn//ˈɔːltə stəʊn/
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