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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.