atri·​um | \ ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio) \
plural atria\ ˈā-​trē-​ə How to pronounce atria (audio) \ also atriums

Definition of atrium

1 : the central room of a Roman house
2 plural usually atriums
a : a rectangular open patio around which a house is built
b : a many-storied court in a building (such as a hotel) usually with a skylight
3 [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

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Other Words from atrium

atrial \ ˈā-​trē-​əl How to pronounce atrial (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

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 Nine dental suites, a pharmacy and a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen branch off the sun-dappled atrium. Los Angeles Times, "Along the Mississippi, Obamacare’s neglected legacy: civil rights," 11 May 2020 Each is built to fit the space — a gallery, a museum hallway, or in a spectacular example recently, the atrium of the Norval Foundation in Cape Town. Siddhartha Mitter, New York Times, "An Artist’s New Migration Song," 26 Apr. 2020 Kimmel also took a jab at protesters in Ohio earlier this week by examining a photo of angry men and women crowded together outside the statehouse atrium. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert take jabs at Michigan's 'Operation Gridlock' protesters," 17 Apr. 2020 Now, like most of New York City’s other public places, the bright white atrium of the Oculus is all but empty, as residents who can are staying home to staunch the spread of COVID-19. Rachel Riederer, The New Yorker, "New York City’s Empty Streets," 7 Apr. 2020 The second-floor atrium space will be closed in, and a staircase more suited to the house's Federal style will be restored. Cathy Alter,, "Julia Child’s D.C. home had lost its luster. But the owner plans to make it sparkle again.," 3 Sep. 2019 Members of the Cult of Marriott Carpet will walk the convention halls and march in a parade wearing costumes in the hypnotic, star-circle pattern of blue, red and gold that once covered the atrium floor in one of Dragon Con’s chief venues. Cameron Mcwhirter, WSJ, "‘We’re Spending Our Hard-Earned Money to Dress Up Like Carpet.’ The Tight-Knit World of Rug Fans," 30 Aug. 2018 Myself and about a dozen or so other journalists were inside the atrium at the Ohio Statehouse for Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily update. Michelle Everhart,, "You’ve seen the photo of Ohio protesters. Here’s the story behind it.," 16 Apr. 2020 Instead, these are electrical impulses from a group of cells in your heart’s right atrium (chamber) that act like your own internal pacemaker. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "10 Surprising Reasons Your Heart Is Racing and How to Remedy Them," 27 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atrium.' 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 atrium

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for atrium


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Time Traveler for atrium

Time Traveler

The first known use of atrium was in 1577

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Statistics for atrium

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atrium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for atrium


How to pronounce atrium (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of atrium

: an open area inside a tall building that has windows to let light in from above
technical : one of two sections of the heart that take in blood from the veins


atri·​um | \ ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio) \

Kids Definition of atrium

: the part of the heart that receives blood from the veins


atri·​um | \ ˈā-trē-əm How to pronounce atrium (audio) \
plural atria\ -​trē-​ə How to pronounce atria (audio) \ also atriums

Medical Definition of atrium

: 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

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