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

  • n. Ecclesiastical A stone basin with a drain for carrying away the water used in ceremonial ablutions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A drained basin near a church's altar for the disposal of water from liturgical ablutions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A niche near the altar in a church, containing a small basin for rinsing altar vessels.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A basin or tank, usually ornamental, as for a fountain or a bath; sometimes, a large shallow vase for ornamental fishes or aquatic plants; also, any tank or cistern of moderate size.
  • n. Eccles., a stone basin, in old churches generally established within a canopied niche placed close to the altar, used to receive the water in which the priest washes his hands before the celebration of the eucharist, and washes the chalice after the celebration. Now rarely used in the sanctuary, but often in sacristies.


Middle English piscine, from Medieval Latin piscīna, from Latin, fishpond, pool, from piscis, fish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Medieval Latin, from Latin piscīna ("fishpond; swimming pool"), from piscis ("fish"). (1793) (Wiktionary)



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  • Means "swimming pool" in Spanish.

    August 26, 2008

  • In castle architecture, a basin with a drain hole for a priest to wash his hands or vessels, usually set in a niche.

    August 26, 2008

  • A fishpond; or, a stone basin for draining water used in Mass, found chiefly in Roman Catholic churches (including some pre-Reformation churches now used for Protestant worship).

    August 3, 2008