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Al"tar (&unr_;), n. [OE. alter, auter, autier, fr. L. altare, pl. altaria, altar, prob. fr. altus high: cf. OF. alter, autier, F. autel. Cf. Altitude.] 1. 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. Gen. viii. 20.
2. In the Christian church, a construction of stone, wood, or other material for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; the communion table.
&hand_; Altar is much used adjectively, or as the first part of a compound; as, altar bread or altar-bread.
Altar cloth or Altar-cloth, the cover for an altar in a Christian church, usually richly embroidered. -- Altar cushion, a cushion laid upon the altar in a Christian church to support the service book. -- Altar frontal. See Frontal. -- Altar rail, the railing in front of the altar or communion table. -- Altar screen, a wall or partition built behind an altar to protect it from approach in the rear. -- Altar tomb, a tomb resembling an altar in shape, etc. -- Family altar, place of family devotions. -- To lead (as a bride) to the altar, to marry; -- said of a woman.