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[neyv] /neɪv/
the principal longitudinal area of a church, extending from the main entrance or narthex to the chancel, usually flanked by aisles of less height and breadth: generally used only by the congregation.
Origin of nave
1665-75; < Medieval Latin nāvis, Latin: ship; so called from the resemblance in shape
Can be confused
knave, naval, nave (see synonym study at knave) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nave
  • The forum will be held in the nave and will cover both the architectural and historical significance of the cathedral.
  • You'll see the whole story painted on the ceiling of the main nave.
  • For now, the crossing and the chapels around the apse are open, reached through a shed that runs through the nave.
  • The gunboat would nave shelled the guerrillas, but that they protected themselves with the prisoners they had captured.
  • He would nave farms for the loyal from the plantations of the rebels.
  • Separating the choir from the nave was a bronze rail.
  • The soft hues of its murals-pink, pale blue and white-give the nave an airy feel.
  • In that nave and in the adjoining aisles knelt or stood the rapt throng of worshipers.
  • He commissioned the three-nave cathedral in the sixth century.
  • The nave was likely only joined to the tower after that was finished.
British Dictionary definitions for nave


the central space in a church, extending from the narthex to the chancel and often flanked by aisles
Word Origin
C17: via Medieval Latin from Latin nāvis ship, from the similarity of shape


the central block or hub of a wheel
Word Origin
Old English nafu, nafa; related to Old High German naba
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 nave

"main part of a church," 1670s, from Medieval Latin navem (nominative navis) "nave of a church," from Latin navis "ship" (see naval), on some fancied resemblance in shape.

"hub of a wheel," Old English nafu, from Proto-Germanic *nabo- (cf. Old Saxon naba, Old Norse nöf, Middle Dutch nave, Dutch naaf, Old High German naba, German Nabe), perhaps connected with the root of navel on notion of centrality (cf. Latin umbilicus "navel," also "the end of a roller of a scroll," Greek omphalos "navel," also "the boss of a shield").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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