tab·​er·​na·​cle | \ ˈta-bər-ˌna-kəl How to pronounce tabernacle (audio) \

Definition of tabernacle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a house of worship specifically : a large building or tent used for evangelistic services
2 : a receptacle for the consecrated elements of the Eucharist especially : an ornamental locked box used for reserving the Communion hosts
3a often capitalized : a tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus
b archaic : a dwelling place
c archaic : a temporary shelter : tent


tabernacled; tabernacling\ ˈta-​bər-​ˌna-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce tabernacling (audio) \

Definition of tabernacle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to take up temporary residence especially : to inhabit a physical body

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Other Words from tabernacle


tabernacular \ ˌta-​bər-​ˈna-​kyə-​lər How to pronounce tabernacular (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for tabernacle

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of tabernacle in a Sentence

Noun worshippers gathering at the Baptist tabernacle on a bright Sunday morning
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The service was outdoors, of course, in a small open-sided tabernacle built here in the Adirondacks, along the banks of the upper Hudson, in 1908, to serve a Methodist campground where congregations began meeting in 1871. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Back to Church—But Not, Let’s Hope, Back to Normal," 6 July 2020 Sidney Harman Hall has been transformed by director Whitney White and her designers into the Harlem storefront tabernacle from which Sister Margaret Alexander — in the person of a riveting Mia Ellis — guides her restive flock. Washington Post, "12 things to do in the D.C. area this weekend," 12 Mar. 2020 They were stationed at elbow’s height, framed with stone, and shaped like a tabernacle, lest those about to imbibe forget the consequences that come with having one too many. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Florence's Newest Outdoor Drinking Trend Is Also Its Oldest," 21 Jan. 2020 For comparison's sake: This is the same bible that included my Torah portion, Bamidbar, which was literally just about counting tribes around a sacred tabernacle. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "Hanukkah 2019: When is it, and what to know (No, it's not the 'Jewish Christmas')," 22 Dec. 2019 This emptiness was later copied, perhaps unwittingly, by American architects in their homage to the British style, which is why our neo-Gothic college campuses are replete with little sculptural tabernacles and niches, all of them bare. Daniel Gelernter, National Review, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Defaces Its Façade," 21 Sep. 2019 All that was saved as the flames consumed the structure was the tabernacle. Fox News, "124-year-old Catholic church in Texas burns to the ground," 31 July 2019 The group managed to take vestments, the tabernacle and the Holy Host. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "Trona Catholics kept the faith as their town declined. Then, two earthquakes shook their ‘gem in the desert’," 5 Aug. 2019 The family has also built a sprawling biblical theme park in the West Bank settlement of Shilo, revered as the ancient site of the biblical tabernacle. Washington Post, "US duty free owners give millions to Israeli settlements," 1 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tabernacle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tabernacle


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1653, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tabernacle


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin tabernaculum, from Latin, tent, from taberna hut

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Time Traveler for tabernacle

Time Traveler

The first known use of tabernacle was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Tabernacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for tabernacle


How to pronounce tabernacle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tabernacle

: a place of worship that is used by some Christian groups
: a box in which the holy bread and wine are kept in a Catholic church
: a small, movable tent that was used as a place of worship by the ancient Israelites


tab·​er·​na·​cle | \ ˈta-bər-ˌna-kəl How to pronounce tabernacle (audio) \

Kids Definition of tabernacle

1 : a place of worship
2 often capitalized : a tent used as a place of worship by the ancient Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness with Moses

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