noun, often attributive
al·tar | \ ˈȯl-tər \

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

Katharine McPhee and David Foster are headed to the altar. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Katharine McPhee defends engagement to David Foster with Twitter clapback," 7 July 2018 The idea for the club came from a wedding in 1927 where 60 Harley riders accompanied the groom, a famous motorcycle racer, to the altar. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Castles and bikes: Harley riders from around the world roll into Prague," 5 July 2018 But a twist of fate led the couple to the altar more than four months early., "North Carolina Couple Wins Dream Wedding in Auction After Canceled Ceremony: It Was 'Perfect'," 25 June 2018 Peer pressure had brought me to this moment, clacking in my wooden sandals to the altar. Sara Eckel, Longreads, "The Hole in My Soul," 1 June 2018 In a history-making moment, Meghan walked herself halfway down the aisle and then was met by Prince Charles who accompanied her the remaining distance to the altar. Marie Claire, "Are Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Delaying Their Honeymoon to Visit Meghan's Father?," 24 May 2018 Prince Charles , the groom's father, will walk Markle to the altar after her own father became too ill to attend., "Royal wedding guests pour into Windsor Castle ahead of nuptials watched 'round the world," 19 May 2018 Some couples embrace their online roots all the way to the altar. Emma Court, WSJ, "‘Love Stories of Tumblr’: How the Entire Internet Became a Dating Site," 14 May 2018 Leaving Batman stranded at the altar is just the beginning. David Betancourt,, "Fans were mad that Batman and Catwoman's wedding day surprise was ruined. But the story is still great.," 10 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for altar

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for altar

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

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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 \

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

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Comments on altar

What made you want to look up altar? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an open space surrounded by woods

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