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[reer-dos, reer-i-, rair-i-] /ˈrɪər dɒs, ˈrɪər ɪ-, ˈrɛər ɪ-/
a screen or a decorated part of the wall behind an altar in a church.
the back of a fireplace or of a medieval open hearth.
Origin of reredos
1325-75; Middle English, alteration of Anglo-French areredos, equivalent to Middle French arere behind (see arrear) + dos back (< Latin dorsum) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for reredos
  • Interior decoration includes paintings on carved wooden reredos and sidewalls and under the balcony.
  • Hare again are pews, pulpit, pedestals and a carved reredos.
  • There are plans to remove the reredos fran the church.
  • Old paintings adorn the carved wood reredos and side walls, and a wooden lattice railing serves as an altar rail.
British Dictionary definitions for reredos


a screen or wall decoration at the back of an altar, in the form of a hanging, tapestry, painting, or piece of metalwork or sculpture
another word for fireback (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14: from Old French areredos, from arere behind + dos back, from Latin dorsum
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 reredos

"screen behind an altar," late 14c., from Anglo-French rere-, archaic comb. form of rear (n.), + dos "back" (see dossier). Klein's sources suggest it is aphetic of Anglo-French areredos, from Old French arere "at the back" (Modern French arrière).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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