One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The revenue arising from an altar in the form of oblations, offerings, etc.; the right to collect and retain this as income. Also as a count noun (chiefly in plural): an income or revenue so derived.
2Chiefly Scottish. An altar maintained for a priest to say mass for a particular individual, family, etc.; a fund, provision, or endowment for this.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Wyclif (d. 1384), theologian, philosopher, and religious reformer. From altar + -age, after Anglo-Norman auterage and Middle French autelage or post-classical Latin altaragium, alteragium, altelagium, altilagium.
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