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From Ancient Greek ἄμβωνος (ámbōnos) (ambonos), genitive form of ἄμβων (ámbōn) (ambos) "rim, edge", and κλαστός (klastós) (klastos) "broken". Hence, literally, "one who wishes to tear down screens", in reference to the rood screens that separated the chancel (where priests were) from the nave (where the congregation was) in a medieval church.


ambonoclast (plural ambonoclasts)

  1. (pejorative) One who wishes to excessively modernize churches, particularly by removing traditional screens.
    • 1861, A. Welby Pugin, Recollections of A.N. Welby Pugin, and His Father, Augustus Pugin: With Notices of Their Works, page 153:
      "The principal characteristics of modern ambonoclasts may be summed up as follows:"
    • 1915, Edward Walford et al., The Antiquary, page 331 [1]:
      "ambonoclasts who destroyed so much screenwork during the last century ..."
    • 1931, Basil Clarke, Church Builders of the Nineteenth Century: A Study of the Gothic Revival in England, Macmillan, page 66 [2]:
      "Wyatt's policy, too, was to remove screens and to open a building from end to end: he was an ambonoclast. "

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