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early 14c., lettorne, lettron, from Old French letron, from Medieval Latin lectrinum, from Late Latin lectrum "lectern," from root of Latin legere "to read" (see lecture (n.)). Half-re-Latinized in English in 15c.
originally a pedestal-based reading desk with a slanted top used for supporting liturgical books-such as Bibles, missals, and breviaries at religious services; later, a stand that supports a speaker's books and notes. In early Christian times, lecterns, then known as ambos, were incorporated into the structure of the sanctuary-one on the north side of the choir for reading the Epistle, the other at the south for reading the Gospel