1. An elevated place or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted or upon which sacrifices may be offered.
2. A structure, typically a table, before which the divine offices are recited and upon which the Eucharist is celebrated in Christian churches.
[Middle English auter, from Old English altar and Old French auter, both from Latin altāre.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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