from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Architecture A usually semicircular or polygonal, often vaulted recess, especially the termination of the sanctuary end of a church.
  • n. Astronomy An apsis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A semicircular projection from a building, especially the rounded east end of a church that contains the altar.
  • n. The bishop's seat or throne in ancient churches.
  • n. A reliquary, or case in which the relics of saints were kept.
  • n. The nearest and furthest points to the centre of gravitational attraction for a body in orbit. More usually called an apsis.
  • n. In some local dialects and in archaic usage, an aspen tree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A projecting part of a building, esp. of a church, having in the plan a polygonal or semicircular termination, and, most often, projecting from the east end. In early churches the Eastern apse was occupied by seats for the bishop and clergy.
  • n. The bishop's seat or throne, in ancient churches.
  • n. A reliquary, or case in which the relics of saints were kept.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. . In architecture: Strictly, any recess, or the termination of a building, of semicircular plan, covered by a semicircular vault or semi-dome; hence, a similar feature of polygonal plan.
  • n. In ordinary use, the termination of the choir or
  • n. sanctuary of any church, particularly if it presents a superficial resemblance to an apse in the stricter sense, in that it is at least approximately semicircular in plan, and vaulted: commonly equivalent to chevet, and applied to the altar extremity of a church, even if of rectangular plan and not vaulted, and including the apse-aisles, chapels, and any other adjunct to the ritual east end of a church.
  • n. . In astronomy, same as apsis.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a domed or vaulted recess or projection on a building especially the east end of a church; usually contains the altar


Variant of apsis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Via Latin apsis, from Ancient Greek ἁψίς (hapsis, "arch, vault"), from ἅπτω (haptō, "I bind, join"). (Wiktionary)


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  • Semi-circular projection. Tower that is round-fronted or U-shaped.

    August 24, 2008