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narthex

[nahr-theks] /ˈnɑr θɛks/
noun, Architecture
1.
an enclosed passage between the main entrance and the nave of a church.
Origin
1665-1675
1665-75; < Late Greek nárthēx, Greek: giant fennel
Related forms
narthecal
[nahr-thee-kuh l] /nɑrˈθi kəl/ (Show IPA),
adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for narthexes

narthex

/ˈnɑːθɛks/
noun
1.
a portico at the west end of a basilica or church, esp one that is at right angles to the nave
2.
a rectangular entrance hall between the porch and nave of a church
Word Origin
C17: via Latin from Medieval Greek: enclosed porch, enclosure (earlier: box), from Greek narthēx giant fennel, the stems of which were used to make boxes
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 narthexes

narthex

n.

"porch at the west end of early churches" (used by penitents not admitted to the body of the church), 1670s, from Late Greek narthex, in classical Greek "giant fennel," of unknown origin. The architectural feature allegedly so called from fancied resemblance of porch to a hollow stem. The word also was used in Greek to mean "a small case for unguents, etc." According to Hesiod ("Theogeny"), Prometheus conveyed fire from Heaven to Earth in hollow fennel stalks. Related: Narthecal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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