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altar

altar, table or platform for the performance of religious sacrifice. In its simplest form the altar is a small pile, with a square or circular surface, made of stone or wood. Its features vary according to its purpose. The altar of libation usually has a drain for the liquid, and so does the altar of bloody sacrifice; the altar of burnt offering (including incense) often has a depressed hollow for a fire. Altars in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in Greece, in Rome, and among the Aztec and the Maya were highly adorned with friezes, cornices, elaborate platforms, and canopies. At Pergamum there was a huge monumental altar 40 ft (12.2 m) high. Altars as a rule were out of doors in the ancient world and in Central America. The Christian altar is the place to celebrate the Eucharist, a sacrifice in the traditional view. In the Western Church the altar is a long, narrow table of stone or wood, often reminiscent of a tomb; at its back is a reredos, which often bears a canopy. In the Roman rite there are in the middle of the altar a crucifix and a tabernacle to contain the reserved Host, although recent legislation of Roman liturgical reform suggests that the tabernacle be placed elsewhere in the church. There is a recess in each altar containing bones of martyrs; this is even true of tiny portable altars carried by chaplains. In Eastern rites the altar is square and has no backing or reredos; it is away from the wall. Most Protestant denominations have no altar; a typical practice is to have a permanent communion table below and in front of the pulpit.

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altar

altar. Block, pedestal, stand, or table on which to place or sacrifice offerings to a deity. Jewish altars had horn-like ornaments at each corner, and this type of decoration also occurred in Classical Antiquity, with simplified horns or ears, also known as acroteria. Classical altar-tops have similarities to cinerarium- and sarcophagus-lids, and influenced the design of Neo-Classical gate-piers, tops of door-cases, and the like.

Christian altars, consecrated for celebration of the Eucharist, are elevated tables with a plane top, usually of stone, although the Reformation insisted on replacing them with wooden Communion- or Holy-tables. In a church the high altar is the chief altar and is sited at the east end of the chancel. The sides (horns) of altars are termed Epistle (south) and Gospel (north).

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Altar

Altar (Lat., altare, ‘to raise up’). A structure, often raised, either natural or humanly made, usually with a flat surface, on which offerings are made to God or gods. In Hinduism, the vedi (altar) is the centre of the world, axis mundi, because the divine comes into the world at that point. The word bēma (Gk., ‘altar’) may refer to the whole sanctuary, hiera/hagia trapeza (‘sacred/holy table’) being reserved for the altar.

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altar

al·tar / ˈôltər/ • n. the table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services. ∎  a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, esp. for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity. PHRASES: lead someone to the altar marry. ORIGIN: Old English altar, alter, based on late Latin altar, altarium, from Latin altus ‘high.’

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altar

altar OE. altar, alter = OS., OHG., ON. altari; Gmc. adoption of late L. altar, altāre, altārium for L. altāria n. pl. burnt offerings, altar, prob. rel. to adolēre burn in sacrifice. The native OE. word was wī(ġ)bed, wēofod ‘idol table’; the alien word was applied spec. to the Christian altar.

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altar

altar the table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services; a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity. The word comes ultimately from Latin altus ‘high’.

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altar

altaraorta, daughter, exhorter, exporter, extorter, Horta, importer, mortar, porter, quarter, slaughter, snorter, sorter, sporter, supporter, three-quarter, torte, transporter, underwater, water •altar, alter, assaulter, defaulter, falter, Gibraltar, halter, Malta, palter, psalter, salter, vaulter, Walter •flaunter, haunter, saunter, taunter, vaunter •exhauster, Forster •fraudster • granddaughter •stepdaughter • manslaughter •ripsnorter • pole-vaulter • backwater •headquarter • freshwater •breakwater • rainwater • seawater •dishwater • tidewater • Whitewater •saltwater • rosewater • shearwater •firewater •doubter, grouter, outer, pouter, scouter, shouter, spouter, touter •counter, encounter, mounter •jouster, ouster •revcounter •bloater, boater, Botha, Dakota, doter, emoter, floater, gloater, iota, Kota, Minnesota, motor, promoter, quota, rota, rotor, scoter, voter •bolter, coulter (US colter), Volta •boaster, coaster, poster, roaster, toaster •roadster • oldster •bolster, holster, pollster, soulster, upholster •billposter

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