Definition of dossal in English:



  • An ornamental cloth hung behind an altar in a church or at the sides of a chancel.

    • ‘Interesting are also some easel works by Titian, Tiepolo, Giorgione and by Tintoretto himself, as well as the dossals by Giovanni Marchiori and the wooden sculptures by Francesco Pianta.’
    • ‘The Frontispiece shows the high altar of Westminster Abbey vested for Lent in a frontal, frontlet, and dossal of white linen.’
    • ‘Behind the altar hang the dossals or draperies.’
    • ‘The dossals were decorated with pictures and stories of the saints, which had an educational as well as devotional function.’
    • ‘The tall ladder was set up, the long white dossals were hung.’
    • ‘They added a loom in the mid-1960's and she made dossals, tapestries, pillows, lampshades and other handmade fabric wares.’
    • ‘These dossals have both been cut down at either end; they each most likely had two extra figures of saints.’
    • ‘Altar cloths and Communion lines were replaced regularly, it seemed, and dossals or backdrops have come and gone.’
    • ‘It donated the framed dossals of St. Francis and St. Clare, which were blessed and placed in the Eucharistic Chapel in November 1996.’
    • ‘It was made ready, its stage transformed into a sanctuary and choir, an altar erected with dossals and riddles, hanging crucifix and candles.’
    • ‘I was a pastor several years ago, but never knew if we had dossals.’
    • ‘Another work with Petrine iconography is a thirteenth-century dossal for, most likely, the little Florentine church.’
    • ‘Very tasteful dossals of purple and white hung the walls on either side of the altar.’
    • ‘The dossal was up - in all its purple glory.’
    drape, curtain, drop, drop cloth, drop curtain, drop scene, tableau curtain, frontal
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century (denoting an ornamental cloth for covering the back of a seat): from medieval Latin dossale, from late Latin dorsalis ‘on the back’ (see dorsal).