Definition of narthex in English:



  • 1An antechamber, porch, or distinct area at the western entrance of some early Christian churches, separated off by a railing and used by catechumens, penitents, etc.

    • ‘Within, a lacquered bronze glazed screen divides nave from the narthex.’
    • ‘The structure continues a Spanish tradition in that, although it is by location a narthex placed at the west end of the church of San Isidoro, it has the character of a crypt and burial chamber.’
    • ‘In the narthex, daylight enters from a mysterious source overhead; the main sanctuary is seen only in glimpses.’
    • ‘As soon they reached the narthex, a small antechamber built off of the western gate's wall, Rachel twisted the handle to the room, and the door groaned open.’
    1. 1.1An antechamber or large porch in a modern church.
      • ‘The baptism begins at the narthex of the church, where the godparents speak for the child, renouncing Satan, blowing three times in the air, and spitting three times on the floor.’
      • ‘In our conversations in the narthex, we learn to smile and nod and thank the preacher for the sermon even if we didn't understand a thing.’
      • ‘Christian glanced into the nave from the narthex, checking to make sure Elizabeth was all right.’
      • ‘They were seated at the midpoint of the nave, with us facing them backward, that is, toward the narthex rather than the apse of the cathedral.’
      • ‘How often is the church narthex so small that it can't accommodate even a small crowd of people - who in northern climes are trying to remove their boots?’


Late 17th century: via Latin from Greek narthēx.