|1.||in a church|
|a. one of several long benchlike seats with backs, used by the congregation|
|b. an enclosed compartment reserved for the use of a family or other small group|
|2.||informal (Brit) a seat (esp in the phrase take a pew)|
|[C14 pywe, from Old French puye, from Latin podium a balcony, from Greek podion supporting structure, from pous foot]|
originally a raised and enclosed place in a church designed for an ecclesiastical dignitary or officer; the meaning was later extended to include special seating in the body of the church for distinguished laity and, finally, to include all church seating. In its early stages, the pew was meant for standing in and was close in conception to a pulpit; but in its second phase of development, it became an elaborate wooden structure, shut off from the main body of the nave, with seats, prayer benches, and other accessories. Such pews were owned by individuals or institutions and appeared both in wills and in legal actions
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