atri·​um | \ˈā-trē-əm \
plural atria\ -​trē-​ə \ 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 \ -​trē-​əl \ 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

As Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a dozen women who had attended her high school joined hands in the atrium outside the building and began singing their alma mater song. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Hundreds of people showed up to thank Ford for testifying," 27 Sep. 2018 There are all kinds of nooks to enjoy your turmeric smoothie or macchiato in: near a fireplace in the cocktail lounge, in a book alcove overlooking the three-story atrium, or perched at a counter in a clean white cafe. Amy Thomas, New York Times, "36 Hours in Buffalo," 28 June 2018 More Private Properties Formerly outfitted with gangplanks, hammocks and trapeze and a jungle gym by the elder Mr. Mailer, who wished to overcome his fear of heights, the two-story atrium in the main unit is now mostly made up of glass. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Norman Mailer’s Longtime Brooklyn Home Seeks $2.4 Million," 15 May 2018 Most of the usable floor space is confined to the meeting spaces scattered along the east and west sides of the three-story atrium. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Diego bets millions of dollars on plan to turn skydiving center into homeless hub," 9 Apr. 2018 To the other side of the atrium is the fine arts wing, which houses music and arts classes. Sarah Freishtat, Aurora Beacon-News, "'The kids are in awe': New wings, entrance open at East Aurora High School," 16 Feb. 2018 In January, Egypt placed the ancient statue of one of its most famous pharaohs, Ramses II at the museum’s atrium, which will include 43 massive statues. Time, "Egypt Says 4,400-Year-Old Tomb Discovered Outside Cairo," 3 Feb. 2018 The atrium at Trinity's Raether Library and Information Technology Center bears his name by virtue of a gift from Mitchell Merin, one of his former students., "Richard Scheuch," 24 Jan. 2018 For the new United States embassy in London, the AIE program had the task of finding a showstopping work by an American artist for the building's two-and-a-half-story atrium. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "How the State Department is Bringing American Art to the World," 14 Mar. 2016

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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Statistics for atrium

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for atrium

The first known use of atrium was in 1577

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More Definitions for atrium



English Language Learners Definition of atrium

: an open area inside a tall building that has windows to let light in from above

: one of two sections of the heart that take in blood from the veins


atri·​um | \ˈā-trē-əm \

Kids Definition of atrium

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


atri·​um | \ˈā-trē-əm \
plural atria\ -​trē-​ə \ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on atrium

Spanish Central: Translation of atrium

Nglish: Translation of atrium for Spanish Speakers

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

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