• synonyms


noun, plural be·ma·ta [bee-muh-tuh] /ˈbi mə tə/, be·mas.
  1. Eastern Church. the enclosed space surrounding the altar; the sanctuary or chancel.
  2. (in a Christian basilica) an open space between the end of the nave arcade and the apse.
  3. bimah.
  4. a platform for public speaking.
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Origin of bema

1675–85; < Greek bêma step, platform, equivalent to bē- (verbid stem of baínein to step, go; see come) + -ma (noun suffix denoting result of action)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bema

Historical Examples of bema

  • The bema and the two lateral chapels have cross-groined vaults.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople

    Alexander Van Millingen

  • Twice I went to the bema and spoke to those priests and that mangy rabble.

    Let us follow Him

    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • In Greece the bema was the general name of any raised platform.

  • To accommodate the people and to enjoy the repose of midday, Roman governors, Suetonius tells us, mounted the bema at sunrise.

  • Still it rejoiced him to hear the noble truths of democracy delivered as it were from the bema.


    George Gissing

British Dictionary definitions for bema


bimah or bima

  1. the speaker's platform in the assembly in ancient Athens
  2. Eastern Orthodox Church a raised area surrounding the altar in a church; the sanctuary
  3. Judaism another word for almemar
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Word Origin for bema

C17: via Late Latin, from Greek bēma, from bainein to go
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