atri·​um ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio)
plural atria ˈā-trē-ə How to pronounce atrium (audio) also atriums
: the central room of a Roman house
plural usually atriums
: a rectangular open patio around which a house is built
: a many-storied court in a building (such 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
atrial adjective

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In an ancient Roman house, an atrium was 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.

Examples of atrium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the meantime, visitors can get a preview of the entrance and retail area, which includes an impressive 36-foot-tall, 166,000 lbs, 3,200-year-old Ramses II statue in the atrium. Nada El Sawy, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Nov. 2023 Bridges, now suspended from the center’s ceiling, crisscross the new atrium, where lounges spill like rice-paddy fields down from the upper floors. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2023 True to Viking’s sleek and Scandi-style roots, the shiny new vessel comes outfitted with 41 residential-style staterooms, an open-air atrium, two modern restaurants, and an infinity-edge plunge pool flanking Aton’s signature Aquavit terrace. Michelle Gross, Robb Report, 13 Nov. 2023 To round out the offerings there is a world-class spa with a two-story atrium, private poolside cabanas, and some of the best cuisine in the Keys. Tracey Minkin, Travel + Leisure, 27 Oct. 2023 Now that has all moved to Pennsylvania Avenue, including a segment of the Berlin Wall displayed in an atrium. Nick Anderson, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2023 The atrium essentially connected the rest of the domus, much like a kitchen can open up to a living area and dining room in a modern open-concept space. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Nov. 2023 King Charles and Queen Camilla View a Piece of Queen Elizabeth's Royal History Before State Visit to Kenya Then, inside the atrium of the museum, Charles and Camilla were joined by local schoolkids to view exhibits documenting Kenya’s history and the events leading to the country’s independence. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 31 Oct. 2023 The main-deck guest suites have windows measuring nearly 20 feet across, while the winter garden on the stern has fully retracting glass doors, and there’s even a glass staircase and elevator in the main atrium. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 9 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'atrium.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of atrium was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near atrium

Cite this Entry

“Atrium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


atri·​um ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio)
plural atria -trē-ə How to pronounce atrium (audio) also atriums
: a chamber of the heart receiving blood from the veins and forcing it into a ventricle that in lung-breathing vertebrates (as frogs and human beings) is one of two chambers of which the right receives blood full of carbon dioxide from the body and the left receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs but in gill-breathing vertebrates (as fishes) is only a single chamber

Medical Definition


atri·​um ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio)
plural atria -trē-ə How to pronounce atrium (audio) also atriums
: 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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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