• synonyms


  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

Examples from the Web for apsidal

Historical Examples

  • The churches are usually small, and have an apsidal east end.


    Thomas Roger Smith

  • In Germany, however, apsidal transepts (Fig. 178) were built.


    Thomas Roger Smith

  • Further, the chancel at Bradford is rectangular, not apsidal.

  • Assuming that the choir was not apsidal but square, we get the same result.

    Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys

    Dugald Butler and Herbert Story

  • These are all apsidal, but planned in the usual way and not as at the Frari.

British Dictionary definitions for apsidal


  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 apsidal



"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