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

In the video, Ciara — who has long spoken about the importance of her Christian faith — appears at an altar with out Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his real-life spouse Justin Mikita. Kaitlin Reilly,, "Ciara Responds To Criticism For Appearing In Taylor Swift's "You Need To Calm Down" Video," 18 June 2019 The scene was set: Jamie stood at the altar with his brother, Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and his grandfather, Henry Reagan (Lou Cariou) by his side. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Fans 'Feel Cheated' Over the Shocking Finale Cliffhanger," 13 May 2019 When those plans finally unraveled in the spring of 2016, Baker Hughes was left at the altar with a $3.5 billion cash consolation prize. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Buy Baker Hughes on This Breakup," 13 Nov. 2018 In one, Cattelan recreated a miniature version of the Sistine Chapel, complete with copies of Michelangelo’s ceilings and The Last Judgment behind the altar. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Maurizio Cattelan On The Artist Is Present, His Mind-Bending New Exhibit With Alessandro Michele in Shanghai," 22 Oct. 2018 However, Prince Harry couldn't resist watching Meghan enter St. George's Chapel, and walk to the altar with Prince Charles. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Here's How Meghan and Harry's Wedding Broke Royal Tradition," 19 May 2018 Inside, a screen projected huge images of flags behind the altar. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Jacob Pickett funeral updates: A final resting place," 9 Mar. 2018 The mass was held the day before Notre Dame’s yearly consecration of its altar, the feast of the Dedication of Our Lady. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Priests in hard hats celebrate the first mass at Notre Dame since the devastating fire," 15 June 2019 Turner and Jonas adorably exchanged ring pops at the altar, a hint that a more formal and serious wedding is in the works. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sophie Turner Wore a Jumpsuit for Her Las Vegas Wedding to Joe Jonas Last Night," 2 May 2019

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

10 Jul 2019

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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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on altar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with altar

Spanish Central: Translation of altar

Nglish: Translation of altar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of altar for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about altar

Comments on altar

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