noun, often attributive
al·​tar | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce altar (audio) \

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
2a : a tablelike construction used in the Christian church in celebrating the Eucharist
b : a table or place which serves as a center of worship or ritual often used with the to refer to the act of getting married They are destined for the altar.She left him at the altar. [=she decided at the last minute not to go through with her planned marriage to him]

Examples of altar in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The kind generated by thousands upon thousands of people gathering to worship at the altar of cryptocurrencies. New York Times, 5 June 2021 Be sure to take time out of what is sure to be one of the busiest seasons of your life to enjoy the journey to the altar. Essence, 2 June 2021 Sources directly involved with the nuptials told TMZ that The Voice coach exchanged vows with Gomez in Montecito, California sometime this past weekend, and Grande's people later confirmed that the couple made it to the altar. Ineye Komonibo,, 18 May 2021 He was seized by revelation, warmed by astronomical happiness — a joy in the presence of celestial splendor; reverence at the altar of sheer magnitude; wonder at locating oneself in a cosmic perspective. Peter M. Leschak, Star Tribune, 15 May 2021 The architects, like Liu, return to the altar as the centerpiece. Eva Hagberg, Curbed, 15 Mar. 2021 Since Elizabeth, who is a down-to-earth high school teacher, and Donovan, a reserved New York businessman, are so different, their trip to the altar is lively and unpredictable. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2021 He was thrilled whenever he was invited to escort the pastor to the altar. Mary Schmich,, 12 Mar. 2021 The sacristy, a tiny room next to the altar, is packed with bad memories. Ben Wedeman, CNN, 4 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of altar

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for altar

Middle English alter, from Old English altar, from Latin altare; probably akin to Latin adolēre to burn up

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About altar

Time Traveler for altar

Time Traveler

The first known use of altar was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for altar

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Altar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for altar



English Language Learners Definition of altar

: 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


al·​tar | \ ˈȯl-tər How to pronounce altar (audio) \

Kids Definition of altar

1 : a platform or table used as a center of worship
2 : a usually raised place on which sacrifices are offered


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!