[chan-suhl, chahn-]
the space about the altar of a church, usually enclosed, for the clergy and other officials.

1275–1325; Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin cancellus lattice, railing or screen before the altar of a church, Latin cancell(ī) (plural) lattice, railing, grating; see cancel

chanceled, chancelled, adjective
subchancel, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
chancel (ˈtʃɑːnsəl)
the part of a church containing the altar, sanctuary, and choir, usually separated from the nave and transepts by a screen
[C14: from Old French, from Latin cancellī (plural) lattice]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. chancel, from L.L. cancellus "lattice," from L. cancelli (pl.) "grating, bars" (see cancel), for the lattice-work that separated the chancel from the nave in a church.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


portion of a church that contains the choir, often at the eastern end. Before modern changes in church practice, only clergy and choir members were permitted in the chancel. The name derives from the Latin word for "lattice," describing the screen that during some eras of church history divided the chancel from the nave and crossing.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Tantamount to the rood-screen of a church, which separates the chancel from the
  rest of the building.
The screen between the nave and chancel, where the rood or crucifix was
To the former was attached a charming fourteenth century chapel, the chancel of
  which was towards the street.
The side areas of the chancel are at the floor level of the nave and contain
  wooden pews for use by the choir.
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