ci·​bo·​ri·​um sə-ˈbȯr-ē-əm How to pronounce ciborium (audio)
plural ciboria sə-ˈbȯr-ē-ə How to pronounce ciborium (audio) also ciboriums
: a goblet-shaped vessel for holding eucharistic bread
: baldachin
specifically : a freestanding vaulted canopy supported by four columns over a high altar

Illustration of ciborium

Illustration of ciborium
  • ciborium 1

Examples of ciborium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The tenor belted an E clear out of the ciborium. Kevin Fisher-Paulson,, 16 June 2020

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

Word History


Medieval Latin cibōrium "altar canopy," going back to Latin, "drinking cup," borrowed from Greek kibṓrion "seedpod of the water lily Nelumbo nucifera, cup resembling this pod," of obscure origin

Note: Though the water lily Nelumbo nucifera was called the "Egyptian bean" in Greek (Aigýptios kýamos)—unless this was in actuality a different plant—Nelumbo nucifera is native to South and Southeast Asia and it is uncertain if it was ever cultivated in Egypt. It is described as native by Herodotus (Histories 2.92), but he may have confused imported seeds and pods with the indigenous Egyptian water lilies Nymphaea lotus and N. caerulea. According to the Greek lexicographer Hesychius, kibṓrion is an Egyptian name; if he meant that it was borrowed from ancient Egyptian, a source has never been found.

First Known Use

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ciborium was in 1651

Dictionary Entries Near ciborium

Cite this Entry

“Ciborium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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