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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.
atrium a·tri·um (ā'trē-əm)
n. pl. a·tri·ums or a·tri·a (ā'trē-ə)
A chamber or cavity to which several chambers or passageways are connected.
Either the right or the left upper chamber of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it into a ventricle.
That part of the tympanic cavity that lies below the eardrum.
A subdivision of the alveolar duct in the lung from which the alveolar sacs open.