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See more synonyms for apse on Thesaurus.com
  1. Architecture. a semicircular or polygonal termination or recess in a building, usually vaulted and used especially at the end of a choir in a church.
  2. Astronomy. an apsis.
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Origin of apse

First recorded in 1815–25; variant of apsis
Related formsap·si·dal [ap-si-dl] /ˈæp sɪ dl/, adjectiveap·si·dal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for apse

Historical Examples

  • This chapel was one of the most sunken and dark of the old Romanesque apse.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • However, it was these portions of the transept and the apse which had the least suffered.

  • The apse, the last pillars, the giant piers themselves were felled!

  • When we came into the choir and apse we found ourselves in the midst of complexity.

  • "I am talking of the Apse family," he answered, courteously.

    A Set of Six

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for apse


  1. Also called: apsis a domed or vaulted semicircular or polygonal recess, esp at the east end of a church
  2. astronomy another name for apsis (def. 1)
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Derived Formsapsidal (æpˈsaɪdəl, ˈæpsɪdəl), adjective

Word Origin

C19: from Latin apsis, from Greek: a fitting together, arch, from haptein to fasten
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

Word Origin and History for apse


"semicircular extension at the end of a church," 1846, from Latin apsis "an arch, a vault," from Greek hapsis (Ionic apsis) "loop, arch," originally "a fastening, felloe of a wheel," from haptein "fasten together," of unknown origin. The original sense in Greek seems to have been the joining of the arcs to form a circle, especially in making a wheel. The architectural term is earlier attested in English in the Latin form (1706).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper