chan·​cel ˈchan(t)-səl How to pronounce chancel (audio)
: the part of a church containing the altar and seats for the clergy and choir

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Its gray-and-white-frocked frères filed into church at a quarter after eleven, taking their seats on either side of the airy chancel. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2022 Her husband-to-be, Charles S. Andrews, waited for her inside at the chancel rail. April White,, 7 June 2022 In nearby Santa María Huiramangaro, restorers began stripping whitewash from the church’s 16th-century altarpiece in 2014 after villagers approached I.N.A.H. with concerns about cracks in the chancel walls. New York Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Organist Jim Dorroh, who also oversaw the renovation of the organ, will play and lead the concert featuring the chancel choir in the sanctuary at 2035 Highland Ave. al, 17 Oct. 2021 Apart from the loss of the original chancel, Sir John Soane’s Marylebone church has survived complete and is of great national architectural and historical significance. Joanne Shurvell, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2021 Practically every surface of its 74-foot-long sanctuary and chancel is covered in gilded icons and ornaments, geometric stained glass, and tiny figurines. Jenny Xie, Curbed, 24 Mar. 2021 Even with so many parishioners absent Sunday, the pews were packed as Mena followed the procession toward the chancel, behind the altar server holding up a red processional cross and the deacon carrying a red and gold Bible. Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2019 The event will feature love songs by composers ranging from George Gershwin to Andrew Lloyd Weber and Leonard Bernstein, performed by the church's chancel choir. Linda Mcintosh,, 8 Feb. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chancel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin cancellus lattice, from Latin cancelli; from the latticework enclosing it — more at cancel

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chancel was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near chancel

Cite this Entry

“Chancel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



chan·​cel ˈchan(t)-səl How to pronounce chancel (audio)
: the part of a church containing the altar and seats for the clergy and choir

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