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

Definition of ciborium

1 : a goblet-shaped vessel for holding eucharistic bread
2 : baldachin specifically : a freestanding vaulted canopy supported by four columns over a high altar

Illustration of ciborium

Illustration of ciborium

ciborium 1

First Known Use of ciborium

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ciborium

Medieval Latin cibōrium "altar canopy," going back to Latin, "drinking cup," borrowed from Greek kibṓrion "seed pod 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.

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The first known use of ciborium was in 1651

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Cite this Entry

“Ciborium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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