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[ey-tree-uh m] /ˈeɪ tri əm/
noun, plural atria
[ey-tree-uh] /ˈeɪ tri ə/ (Show IPA),
  1. Also called cavaedium. the main or central room of an ancient Roman house, open to the sky at the center and usually having a pool for the collection of rain water.
  2. a courtyard, flanked or surrounded by porticoes, in front of an early or medieval Christian church.
  3. a skylit central court in a contemporary building or house.
Anatomy. either of the two upper chambers on each side of the heart that receive blood from the veins and in turn force it into the ventricles.
1570-80; < Latin (in anatomical sense < NL)
Related forms
atrial, adjective
interatrial, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for atrium
  • Picture the lobby atrium of a new, green building, one filled with leafy plants and trees.
  • We were shooting a commercial in the atrium of a building, where a small football field is.
  • Walk catwalks in central atrium to your room: floor-to-ceiling windows, sepia artwork, eco-friendly soap dispensers.
  • The building will have a cedar facade, nine peaks and a two-story atrium.
  • The management building's lobby could be a ritzy hotel atrium, replete with marble staircases and chandeliers.
  • One of the centerpieces of the fleet is the central atrium with a live tree.
  • Another view of the central atrium, which features live piano music daily.
  • The older buildings, all accessible from here, anchor three corners of the atrium.
  • Walk in the door and into the sunlit atrium and look up.
  • The lesson: tenants prize a short walk to lunch more highly than an award-winning atrium.
British Dictionary definitions for atrium


/ˈeɪtrɪəm; ˈɑː-/
noun (pl) atria (ˈeɪtrɪə; ˈɑː-)
the open main court of a Roman house
a central often glass-roofed hall that extends through several storeys in a building, such as a shopping centre or hotel
a court in front of an early Christian or medieval church, esp one flanked by colonnades
(anatomy) a cavity or chamber in the body, esp the upper chamber of each half of the heart
Derived Forms
atrial, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin; related to āter black, perhaps originally referring to the part of the house that was blackened by smoke from the hearth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atrium

1570s, from Latin atrium "central court or main room of an ancient Roman house, room which contains the hearth," sometimes said (on authority of Varro, "De Lingua Latina") to be an Etruscan word, but perhaps from PIE *ater- "fire," on notion of "place where smoke from the hearth escapes" (through a hole in the roof). Anatomical sense of "either of the upper cavities of the heart" first recorded 1870. Meaning "skylit central court in a public building" first attested 1967.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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atrium in Medicine

atrium a·tri·um (ā'trē-əm)
n. pl. a·tri·ums or a·tri·a (ā'trē-ə)

  1. A chamber or cavity to which several chambers or passageways are connected.

  2. Either the right or the left upper chamber of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it into a ventricle.

  3. That part of the tympanic cavity that lies below the eardrum.

  4. A subdivision of the alveolar duct in the lung from which the alveolar sacs open.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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atrium in Science
Plural atria or atriums
A chamber of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it by muscular contraction into a ventricle. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have two atria; fish have one.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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