[ awl-ter ]
/ ˈɔl tər /


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.
Ecclesiastical. communion table.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Ara.
(in a dry dock) a ledge for supporting the feet of shorings.

Idioms for altar

    lead to the altar, to marry: After a five-year courtship, he led her to the altar.

Origin of altar

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


altar alter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for altar

British Dictionary definitions for altar

/ (ˈɔːltə) /


a raised place or structure where sacrifices are offered and religious rites performed
(in Christian churches) the communion table
a step in the wall of a dry dock upon which structures supporting a vessel can stand
lead to the altar informal to marry

Word Origin for altar

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