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mensa

[men-suh] /ˈmɛn sə/
noun, plural mensas, mensae
[men-see] /ˈmɛn si/ (Show IPA),
for 1, genitive mensae for 2.
1.
Also called altar slab, altar stone. the flat stone forming the top of the altar in a Roman Catholic church.
2.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the Table, a southern constellation near Octans.
Origin
1685-1695
1685-95; < Latin mēnsa table

Mensa

[men-suh] /ˈmɛn sə/
noun
1.
an international fellowship organization for people with IQ's in the top 2 percent of the general population.
Origin
< Latin mēnsa table, symbolizing the original conception of the society, “a round table where no one has precedence”
Related forms
Mensan, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for mensa

Mensa1

/ˈmɛnsə/
noun (Latin genitive) Mensae (ˈmɛnsiː)
1.
a faint constellation in the S hemisphere lying between Hydrus and Volans and containing part of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Word Origin
Latin, literally: the table

Mensa2

/ˈmɛnsə/
noun
1.
an international society, membership of which is restricted to people whose intelligence test scores exceed those expected of 98 per cent of the population
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for mensa
n.

"altar top," 1848, Latin, literally "table," also "meal, supper," and "altar, sacrificial table," hence used in Church Latin for "upper slab of a church altar" (see mesa). With a capital M-, the name of an organization for people of IQs of 148 or more founded in England in 1946, the name chosen, according to the organization, to suggest a "round table" type group. The constellation was originally Mons Mensae "Table Mountain."

La Caille, who did so much for our knowledge of the southern heavens, formed the figure from stars under the Greater Cloud, between the poles of the equator and the ecliptic, just north of the polar Octans; the title being suggested by the fact that the Table Mountain, back of Cape Town, "which had witnessed his nightly vigils and daily toils," also was frequently capped by a cloud. [Richard Hinckley Allen, "Star Names and Their Meanings," London: 1899]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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