Definitions

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

  • n. A narrow, desklike kneeling bench with space above for a book or the elbows, for use by a person at prayer.
  • n. An armless, upholstered chair with a high straight back and a low seat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of furniture on which someone can pray, consisting of a cushioned area to kneel on, with a built-in ledge for books.

Etymologies

French prie-Dieu : prier, to pray (from Old French, from Latin precārī; see pray) + Dieu, God (from Old French; see adieu).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French prie-Dieu, from prie ("pray") + Dieu ("God"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The slats of wood and cloth by the door that his father called a prie-dieu.

    At Swim, Two Boys

  • Only the measured ticking of a mantle clock, and perhaps a prie-dieu for private devotions set in a shadowed corner, suggest that time is running out.

    With All the Time in the World

  • A man was kneeling on the prie-dieu in front of the Shrine of St. Anthony, his face buried in his hands.

    'I'll Walk Alone'

  • It was becoming too much for me, and I rose and got the Bible, bringing it back to the prie-dieu with me.

    Sick Cycle Carousel

  • The presence of women in the castle had already made some changes in the furnishings of the chapel, by the provision of an embroidered altar-cloth, and the addition of a green-cushioned prie-dieu for the empress's use.

    A River So Long

  • The hand he leaned upon the prie-dieu wore a ring Cadfael had never seen before.

    A River So Long

  • He spends his days on his knees before a prie-dieu and gazing without speaking out of the window.

    The White Queen

  • The cells had no chairs or tables, only a narrow bed, a clothes chest, and a prie-dieu.

    The Book of Unholy Mischief

  • His mother, in her long white night-dress, was kneeling at the other end of the chamber at her prie-dieu, absorbed in devotion.

    Westward Ho!

  • At the funeral service Lady Burton occupied a prie-dieu by the side, and to the right was Captain St. George Burton, of the Black

    The Romance of Isabel Lady Burton

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  • "It is the wisdom inspired by the Muse whom it is best to ignore for as long as possible if we wish to retain some freshness of impressions, some creative power, but whom even those who have ignored her meet in the evening of their lives in the nave of an old country church, at a point when suddenly they feel less susceptible to the eternal beauty expressed in the carvings on the altar than to the thought of the vicissitudes of fortune which those carvings have undergone, passing into a famous private collection or a chapel, from there to a museum, then returning at length to the church, or to the feeling that as they walk around it they may be treading upon a flagstone almost endowed with thought, which is made of the ashes of Arnauld or Pascal, or simply to deciphering (forming perhaps a mental picture of a fresh-faced country girl) on the brass plate of a wooden prie-dieu the names of the daughters of the squire or the notable—the Muse who has gathered up everything that the more exalted Muses of philosophy and art have rejected, everything that is not founded upon truth, everything that is merely contingent, but that reveals other laws as well: the Muse of History."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 919 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 23, 2010

  • "It was furnished with pine cupboards in which altar clothes and vestments were stored. Nearby, on a long table, were laid out silver patens for the communion. There was a high-backed pine chair and, in a corner, a prie-dieu."
    - 'The Colour Of Blood', Brian Moore.

    January 3, 2008