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altar

[awl-ter] /ˈɔl tər/
noun
1.
an elevated place or structure, as a mound or platform, at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices are offered to gods, ancestors, etc.
2.
Ecclesiastical. communion table.
3.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Ara.
4.
(in a dry dock) a ledge for supporting the feet of shorings.
Idioms
5.
lead to the altar, to marry:
After a five-year courtship, he led her to the altar.
Origin of altar
1000
before 1000; Middle English alter, altar (influenced by L), auter (< Old French aut(i)er), Old English alter (OE also altar; compare Middle Dutch outaer, Old Saxon, Old Norse altari, Old High German altāri) < Latin altāria (plural), of disputed origin and formation, but probably akin to Latin adolēre to ritually burn, Umbrian uřetu let it burn
Can be confused
altar, alter.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for altar

altar

/ˈɔːltə/
noun
1.
a raised place or structure where sacrifices are offered and religious rites performed
2.
(in Christian churches) the communion table
3.
a step in the wall of a dry dock upon which structures supporting a vessel can stand
4.
(informal) lead to the altar, to marry
Word Origin
Old English, from Latin altāria (plural) altar, from altus high
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for altar
n.

Old English alter, altar, from Latin altare (plural altaria) "high altar, altar for sacrifice to the great gods," perhaps originally meaning "burnt offerings" (cf. Latin adolere "to worship, to offer sacrifice, to honor by burning sacrifices to"), but influenced by Latin altus "high." In Middle English, often auter, from Old French auter. Reintroduced from Latin 1500s. As a symbol of marriage, by 1820.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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