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Definition of ATRIUM
: the central room of a Roman house
plural usually atriums
a: a rectangular open patio around which a house is built
b: a many-storied court in a building (as a hotel) usually with a skylight
[New Latin, from Latin]: an anatomical cavity or passage; especially: the chamber or either of the chambers of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it into the ventricle or ventricles — see heart illustration
: an anatomical cavity or passage; especially: a chamber of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it into a ventricle or ventricles
Atrium of the basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan, 1088–1128.—Alinari/Art Resource, New York
In an ancient Roman house, an open central court that contained the impluvium, a basin where rainwater collected. It originally contained the hearth and functioned as the center of family life. The term later came to be used for the open front courtyard of a Christian basilica, where congregants collected before services. The atrium was revived in the 20th century in the form of glass-covered, greenery-filled multistory spaces sometimes found in shopping centers, office buildings, and large hotels.