Definition of altar in English:



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

    • ‘His rise to local prominence was due to the dextrous performance of magic on the altars of his church and elsewhere.’
    • ‘What Christ offered in hanging upon the cross for mankind, we recreate at Holy Mass, since He is again sacrificed on our altars.’
    • ‘Offerings to saints - intended to promote healing - hang on strings near many church altars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I want to see William standing by the altar of the church that I've attended since I was a child.’
    • ‘A representative of each family is invited to place a candle on the altar during the service.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There the parochial system was concentrated and efficient, and parish churches could provide altars at which clergy could offer up soul-prayers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Our parishioner had lived through the removal, replacement and removal again of altars and stained-glass windows.’
    • ‘Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture.’
    • ‘In addition to Christian icons, several altars had symbols from other cultural contexts, such as Native American and African figurines and images.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The stained glass windows behind the altar in Glann Church are in need of repair.’
    • ‘Gifts of flowers or donations for flowers for the altars in Raheen Parish Church for Easter will be very welcome.’
    • ‘I then spent a sufficient amount of time in the cathedral admiring the altar and ceiling.’
    holy place, temple, church, chapel, tabernacle, altar, sanctuary, sanctum
    View synonyms
    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.
      • ‘Vedic Indians solved square roots in order to build sacrificial altars of the proper size.’
      • ‘But throughout the Old Testament we find human beings coming to God and finding fellowship with him at altars where sacrifices were made.’
      • ‘The fire altars symbolized the universe and there were three types of altars representing the earth, the atmosphere and the sky.’
      • ‘The African village required construction of yellow and black native huts, palisades, sacrificial altars, and jungle backdrop.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ancient rituals have been revived, sacrificial altars rebuilt and lunar patterns observed with increasing attention.’
      • ‘The requirements for altars, incense, and offerings were described to Moses by God.’
      • ‘Inside, I made straight for the altar of Jowo Sakyamuni and placed my offering of fresh flowers and fruits.’
      • ‘The Buddha is not a god but the place teems with statues and altars to him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They lay fruit and gifts at the altar and light joss sticks as the local shaman begins the ceremony.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many religious practitioners create altars that are associated with crossed practices.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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