Definition of altar
1 : a usually raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship —often used figuratively to describe a thing given great or undue precedence or value especially at the cost of something else sacrificed his family life on the altar of career advancement
2 : a table on which the eucharistic elements are consecrated or which serves as a center of worship or ritual
Recent Examples of altar from the Web
Former altar boys who also testified said the tribunal told them the Vatican hopes to complete the trial as soon as early summer.
One factory preserved its mango in formaldehyde, another tried to stem the fruit’s decay by sealing it in wax before placing it on an altar so that factory workers could solemnly file by to pay their respects to this token from on high.
In a quiet room in Old Town Alexandria the students sit quietly on mats, facing an altar with mala beads and a meditation singing bowl.
Milk Room is a tiny altar to the heady, rarefied world of vintage spirits and amaros.
Across its sill, an altar had been fashioned with cedar boughs, smooth stones, eagle feathers, a small red candle and a tiny bell.
And at least three orchids appear among dozens of other plants on the Ara Pacis, a massive stone altar erected by the emperor Augustus in 9 B.C.E., Caneva and colleagues reported last week in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'altar'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of altar
Middle English alter, from Old English altar, from Latin altare; probably akin to Latin adolēre to burn up
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
ALTAR Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of altar for English Language Learners
: a raised place on which sacrifices and gifts are offered in some religions
: a platform or table used as a center of worship in Christian ceremonies and services
ALTAR Defined for Kids
Definition of altar for Students
1 : a platform or table used as a center of worship
2 : a usually raised place on which sacrifices are offered
Seen and Heard
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