• synonyms


[reer-dos, reer-i-, rair-i-]
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  1. a screen or a decorated part of the wall behind an altar in a church.
  2. the back of a fireplace or of a medieval open hearth.
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Origin of reredos

1325–75; Middle English, alteration of Anglo-French areredos, equivalent to Middle French arere behind (see arrear) + dos back (< Latin dorsum)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for reredos

shrine, font, tabernacle, reredos, chantry, retable

Examples from the Web for reredos

Historical Examples of reredos

  • Like most Flemish productions, the reredos is wanting in grace.

    Portuguese Architecture

    Walter Crum Watson

  • This reredos is in the chapel on the south of the Capella Mor.

    Portuguese Architecture

    Walter Crum Watson

  • Traces of colour are to be seen in the reredos and the roof over it.

  • The floor has some interesting tiles and the reredos has been painted.

  • The triptych which forms the reredos was carved at Ober Ammergau.

British Dictionary definitions for reredos


  1. a screen or wall decoration at the back of an altar, in the form of a hanging, tapestry, painting, or piece of metalwork or sculpture
  2. another word for fireback (def. 1)
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Word Origin for reredos

C14: from Old French areredos, from arere behind + dos back, from Latin dorsum
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 reredos


"screen behind an altar," late 14c., from Anglo-French rere-, archaic comb. form of rear (n.), + dos "back" (see dossier). Klein's sources suggest it is aphetic of Anglo-French areredos, from Old French arere "at the back" (Modern French arrière).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper