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  • WordNet 3.6
    • n altar a raised structure on which gifts or sacrifices to a god are made
    • n altar the table in Christian churches where communion is given
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Mr. Bolster led Miss Plank to the altar Mr. Bolster led Miss Plank to the altar

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Altar A raised structure (as a square or oblong erection of stone or wood) on which sacrifices are offered or incense burned to a deity. "Noah builded an altar unto the Lord."
    • Altar In the Christian church, a construction of stone, wood, or other material for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; the communion table.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n altar An elevated place or structure, a block of stone, or any object of appropriate form, on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned to a deity. The earliest altars were turf mounds, large flat-topped stones, or other rude elevations, natural or artificial; but when temples came to be built altars were generally made of hewn stone, marble, or metal, and became more and more ornate. Greek and Roman altars were round, triangular, or square in plan, often elaborately adorned with sculpture, and bearing inscriptions. Sometimes, as at Pergamon, the altar was a structure of vast size and complex plan, and was in itself an art monument of the highest importance. In the Jewish worship two altars were used: the altar of burnt-offering, which stood at the entrance to the tabernacle, and afterward occupied a corresponding position in the temple, and the altar of incense, which stood in the holy place. Both were made of shittim-wood, the former being overlaid with brass, the latter with gold.
    • n altar In most Christian churches, the communion-table. In the primitive church it was of wood, subsequently of stone, marble, or bronze, sometimes with rich architectural ornaments, sculptures, and painting. In the Roman Catholic Church the altar is the table, since the early ages of the church either of stone or including a block of stone (the altar-stone), upon which the priest consecrates the eucharist. The altar-stone is consecrated by the bishop or a specially licensed abbot, who anoints it with chrism, and often seals up certain relics in a small cavity made for the purpose; the consecration remains in virtue until either the stone or the seal is broken.
    • n altar The steps at the sides of a graving-dock.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Altar awlt′ar an elevated place or structure, block or stone, or the like, on which sacrifices were anciently offered: in Christian churches, the table on which the officiating priest consecrates the eucharist: the communion table:
    • n Altar awlt′ar (fig.) a place of worship
    • ***


  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity.”
  • William Hazlitt
    “There is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion.”
  • Charles Buck
    Charles Buck
    “Their kitchen is their shrine, the cook their priest, the table their altar, and their belly their god.”
  • Joseph De Maistre
    “Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.”
  • Gilbert K. Chesterton
    “Ritual will always mean throwing away something: destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.”
  • Helen Rowland
    “In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice which is still very much practiced.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. alter, auter, autier, fr. L. altare, pl. altaria, altar, prob. fr. altus, high: cf. OF. alter, autier, F. autel,. Cf. Altitude
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. altārealtus, high.


In literature:

In all the temples altars were; in all the mothers sang Before the altars; on the earth the steers' due slaughter lay.
"The Æneids of Virgil" by Virgil
It was transported to Guimaraes to fulfil a like office there for the altar of Our Lady.
"Portuguese Architecture" by Walter Crum Watson
Two large altar pictures still claim our attention; they also belong to Raphael's later period.
"Six Centuries of Painting" by Randall Davies
The papal altar is under a canopy in the Byzantine style.
"Italy, the Magic Land" by Lilian Whiting
I met a chap named Whitely from over toward the Painted Hills north of Altar.
"The Treasure Trail" by Marah Ellis Ryan
A priest denounced a Protestant named Allen from the altar, and a week after the man was shot dead in his tracks.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
Several hilltops in the neighborhood contain fortifications, and are marked by the old tombs known as cromlechs and Druids' altars.
"England, Picturesque and Descriptive" by Joel Cook
Go quickly, and make ready the altar in the Grove of Mystery.
"The Pirate Woman" by Aylward Edward Dingle
The church was shaped like a cross, and had more than one altar in it.
"Phemie Frost's Experiences" by Ann S. Stephens
He looked up, and his glance fell upon a small, glass-covered case, dimly visible in the uncertain light at one side of the little altar.
"Carmen Ariza" by Charles Francis Stocking
They step (the scene is in the temple) by the side of the brazen altar.
"Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, v. 1" by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
Kensington Museum is an altar frontal, worked in coral, gold beads, seed pearls, and spangles.
"Needlework As Art" by Marian Alford
They used to be in front of the altar, but were moved in 1808 when the new altar was put up.
"The Shores of the Adriatic" by F. Hamilton Jackson
Both would advance to the altar, and when they were in place, the Duca would come to them.
"Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930" by Various
That they did not believe the sacrament of the altar, nor the other sacraments of the Church.
"Old and New London" by Walter Thornbury
She is priestess, altar, pledge of holy communion, by turns.
"La Sorcière: The Witch of the Middle Ages" by Jules Michelet
There, the phalanxes of Alexander might raise altars to Zeus.
"The Lords of the Ghostland" by Edgar Saltus
The gentry call this rocky pinnacle the Pagan Altar; the peasants call it the Precipice Stone.
"Eyes Like the Sea" by Mór Jókai
There, for the first time in that land, an altar was raised to the true God.
"Training the Teacher" by A. F. Schauffler
A few lights about the church and on the altar deepened the mystery.
"Glories of Spain" by Charles W. Wood

In poetry:

Guards and shields thee not
With a sacred might,
Holy altar forms,
Deeds of glory bright?
"To Russia" by Ivan Nikitin
-The logs are melting
we must move on
The fire's ending
we'll hear more
at the next altar
"Wilderness" by James Douglas Morrison
Darkened candelabras
on altars of dim god
At the flood of dawning
will rise on tufted sod.
"Giant Cactus" by Norman MacLeod
Candles I'll give to thee,
And a new altar,
And thou, Saint Ben, shalt be
Writ in my psalter.
"His Prayer To Ben Jonson" by Robert Herrick
Ye wee feathert priestie,
Yer bells i' yer thro't,
Yer altar yer breistie,
Yer mitre forgot—
"The Laverock" by George MacDonald
And still before
The altar I
Exult the bowl
Brimful, and cry
To you to stoop
And drink, Most High.
"Mystery" by D H Lawrence

In news:

San Clemente's Las Palmas Elementary School hosts a celebration of the Mexican holiday, complete with a traditional altar, a haunted house, music and more.
A corpse bride checks out a sand altar where names of loved ones were placed for remembrance at Las Palmas Elementary School in San Clemente.
A ceramic sugar skull decorates an altar at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.
Around the El Paso and Las Cruces area, several organizations will celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Friday with altars honoring the dead, a variety of traditional foods and music.
She brought his picture to place on an altar built Thursday by Western Nevada Community College's Latino Students Club in honor of Day of the Dead — or Día de los Muertos — today.
Conjunto Hueyapan, Quetzal, Ixtli Yolotl, and an altar display at the Vinent Price Gallery.
With the blink of an eye, the Tomé Art Gallery will be full of colorful sugar skulls, remembrance altars and skeletons.
Dia de los Muertos Altar Honors Slain Officer.
Tacoma Art Museum's Day of the Dead festivities include live music, free food, Aztec dance, do-it-yourself art, altars honoring those who have passed, and enormous, colorful sand paintings that fill the lobby floor.
Staring Thursday, several altars will be ready for public view at downtown's most iconic locations.
St Dominic Parish Altar and Rosary Society met on Monday, Oct 1 in the church hall.
Gays rush to altar on 1st day after wait period.
Joel Wilkey, youth pastor at Life Church, said just a week before Cade Poulos died he answered an altar call during a youth group and accepted Jesus as his savior.
Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris are again taking steps toward the altar, more than a year after the centerfold canceled their previous engagement and was branded a "runaway bride" in Playboy.
Altar-bound couple trips over fling .

In science:

Altaïr is a consortium funded by IN2 (a Siemens Subsidiary), INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique) and LRI (Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique, Université Paris XI).
Reasoning from a schema and from an analog in software code reuse
S. Kak, The astronomy of the age of geometric altars. Quarterly Journal Royal Astronomical Society, 36, 385-396, 1995.
Aryabhata's Mathematics
There is an interesting altar design in the ´Satapatha Br¯ahman. a (8.5) which represents the orbit of the sun around the earth (Figure 1).
Early Theories on the Distance to the Sun