from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An elevated place or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted or upon which sacrifices may be offered.
- n. A structure, typically a table, before which the divine offices are recited and upon which the Eucharist is celebrated in Christian churches.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A table or similar flat-topped structure used for religious rites.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A raised structure (as a square or oblong erection of stone or wood) on which sacrifices are offered or incense burned to a deity.
- n. In the Christian church, a construction of stone, wood, or other material for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; the communion table.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An elevated place or structure, a block of stone, or any object of appropriate form, on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned to a deity.
- n. In most Christian churches, the communion-table.
- n. The steps at the sides of a graving-dock.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the table in Christian churches where communion is given
- n. a raised structure on which gifts or sacrifices to a god are made
Middle English auter, from Old English altar and Old French auter, both from Latin altāre.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin altare ("altar"), probably related to adolere ("burn"); thus "burning place", influenced by a false connection with altus ("high"). (Wiktionary)