Definition of tabernacle in English:



  • 1(in biblical use) a fixed or movable dwelling, typically of light construction.

    • ‘For God created the world, which he wished to prepare as a tabernacle for man; and, since he wanted to clothe himself in man, he fashioned him to his own image and likeness.’
    • ‘And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.’
    • ‘During this festival, the Hebrews dwelled in booths or tabernacles made of branches, which symbolized God's protection during their wilderness travels.’
    • ‘Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’
    • ‘There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.’
    • ‘Something within me wants to open the great tabernacle of memories and hug them to bits.’
    1. 1.1A tent used as a sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant by the Israelites during the Exodus and until the building of the Temple.
      • ‘In Exodus 30: 22-30 we see Moses anointing the tabernacle, Aaron, and the priests as ministers unto God.’
      • ‘He starts with the Bible, which includes the use of gold as adornment, the golden calf, and the detailed description of use of gold in sanctuary and tabernacle.’
      • ‘Leviticus is a rigorous laying out of the law especially in regard to the tabernacle, temple, and cultic practice.’
      • ‘The Ark of the Covenant was put into the tabernacle.’
      • ‘And The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’
      • ‘The tabernacle of the Old Testament was a ‘shadow of things in heaven.’’
      • ‘In Old Testament times, blood from sacrificed animals was applied to certain vessels in the tabernacle or temple to make them holy for God's use.’
      • ‘Moses then took the anointing oil, anointed the Tabernacle, and all that was within it and consecrated it.’
      • ‘One writer describes it beautifully as being ‘not like a fringe of gold, decorating a robe; but it is like the mercy-seat of the ancient tabernacle, which was pure gold throughout.’’
      • ‘There are also accounts and explanations of the Ark's construction and its place in the tabernacle, and the administrative details for its transportation.’
      • ‘Furthermore, they were accompanied into the land by the tabernacle, an evident token of the presence of God among them.’
      • ‘Moses had splashed the tabernacle seven times with water and blood, and when he needed to reconcile his people with God, he made seven sacrifices.’
      • ‘When God dwelt in the tabernacle, among the Jews, the glory of God was hid except to the high priest who could enter behind the veil into the Holy of Holies.’
      • ‘The story told is that when King Solomon started to build his famous temple in Jerusalem, he entrusted the holy tabernacle that housed the Ten Commandments to his son, Menelik I, for safekeeping.’
      • ‘All animals killed by Israelites were to be killed at the tabernacle.’
      • ‘Previous to this, God ‘moved’ with the people in the tabernacle, which was built to house the tablets of the Commandments.’
      • ‘Of course, this does not refer to just any tent; but to the wilderness tabernacle, the tent that was the dwelling place of God's glory.’
      • ‘The princes of Israel brought a great assortment of gifts to the tabernacle and Aaron the priest cleansed all the Levites.’
      holy place, temple, shrine, tabernacle, altar, sanctum, inner sanctum, holy of holies, sacrarium, bema, naos, adytum
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  • 2A meeting place for worship used by Nonconformists or Mormons.

    • ‘Last night as we were getting ready to perform at the tabernacle in Atlanta, Daron was drinking miso broth, Laura was doing yogic stretches, and I was reading ‘The Economist.’’
    • ‘When I want consciousness expansion, I go to my local tabernacle and I sing!’
    • ‘In 1994 the church announced plans to convert the tabernacle in Vernal, Utah, into a temple.’
    • ‘From 1741 Whitefield's London base was Moorfields tabernacle, with other tabernacles at Norwich, Bristol, and elsewhere.’
    holy place, temple, church, chapel, tabernacle, altar, sanctuary, sanctum
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  • 3An ornamented receptacle or cabinet in which a pyx containing the reserved sacrament may be placed in Catholic churches, usually on or above an altar.

    • ‘The only bread available was consecrated bread used in the tabernacle.’
    • ‘Venerable Solanus Casey would often spend the night in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and would wake up curled up on the floor beneath the tabernacle just in time for morning Mass.’
    • ‘Replacing the tabernacle with an archbishop's throne in Armagh cathedral caused uproar among parishioners two years ago.’
    • ‘Having established that it cannot have been a tabernacle, the only other possible purpose is a reliquary.’
    • ‘St. Philip Neri loved to pray beside the tabernacle in his church in Rome.’
    • ‘Jesus is present in a very real and powerful way in every church that reserves the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.’
    • ‘The enormous crucifix fixed on the wall behind the altar and above the golden tabernacle portrayed the death of Jesus Christ, the son of the Lord God, in a solemn and very sacred manner.’
    • ‘The painting does not have to contain a Eucharistic reference if it has a tabernacle standing in front of it.’
    • ‘The robbers also damaged the altar in an effort to steal the tabernacle, where the Communion host is kept.’
    • ‘The only opposition comes from those who want to turn back the clock completely, spin the altar around, put the Mass back in Latin, enshrine the tabernacle on the altar, and reimpose the law of Friday abstinence.’
    • ‘The tabernacle, sanctuary lamp and all brasses have been cleaned, polished and lacquered in both Mulranny and Tiernaur churches.’
    • ‘Add an altar table, tabernacle, and stations of the cross and you would have had a beautiful Catholic church, combining the best of both traditions.’
    • ‘It is now hoped to put a tapestry behind the tabernacle with a light shining on it.’
    • ‘In a departure from custom, the tabernacle is located in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, not behind the altar.’
    • ‘The celebrant faced the tabernacle, his back to the uncomprehending congregants who busied themselves with their prayer books or rosaries.’
    • ‘During these hidden years, Jeanne often spent hours kneeling in the chapel, gazing at the crucifix or the tabernacle of Christ's presence.’
    • ‘The placement of the tabernacle, the gestures of adoration (especially kneeling during the whole Eucharistic prayer), and the renewal of perpetual adoration are all based on the desire to reinforce belief in the Real Presence.’
    1. 3.1archaic A canopied niche or recess in the wall of a church.
      • ‘Apart from an ornately carved Gothic tabernacle that rises up above one of the two large metal doorways that open out toward the Cathedral, all the visitor sees from the Piazza is a long, low, clean white stone wall.’
      • ‘The national statue of Our lady of Fatima was positioned in the small tabernacle in St. Mary's Church Croom for one week.’
      • ‘From 1412, Nanni di Banco's marble statue of Saint Philip filled the tabernacle.’
      • ‘Above are four statues of the queen, set in elaborate canopied tabernacles.’
      alcove, bay, niche, nook, corner, inglenook
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  • 4A partly open socket or double post on a sailing boat's deck into which a mast is fixed, with a pivot near the top so that the mast can be lowered to pass under bridges.


Middle English: via French from Latin tabernaculum tent, diminutive of taberna hut, tavern.