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Middle English from the 14th century, from Old French, from Latin tabernāculum (tent, booth, shed), the diminutive of taberna (hut, shed).


tabernacle (plural tabernacles)

  1. Any temporary dwelling; a hut, tent, or booth.
    • 1611, King James Version, Job 12:6:
      The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.
  2. (biblical) The portable tent used before the construction of the temple, where the shekinah (presence of God) was believed to dwell.
    • 1611, King James Version, Exodus 40:33–38:
      So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
  3. (by extension) The Jewish Temple at Jerusalem (as continuing the functions of the earlier tabernacle).
  4. Any portable shrine used in heathen or idolatrous worship.
  5. A sukkah, the booth or 'tabernacle' used during the Jewish Feast of Sukkot.
  6. A small ornamented cupboard or box used for the reserved sacrament of the Eucharist, normally located in an especially prominent place in a Roman Catholic church.
    • 1997, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part II, Section 1183:
      The tabernacle is to be situated "in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor." The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
  7. (US) A temporary place of worship, especially a tent, for a tent meeting, as with a venue for revival meetings.
    • 1927, Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry, Chapter 13:
      It was over these innocent necessary precautions that the local committees always showed their meanness. They liked giving over only one contribution to the evangelist, but they wanted nothing said about it till they themselves had been taken care of--till the rent of the hall or the cost of building a tabernacle, the heat, the lights, the advertising, and other expenses had been paid.
  8. (by extension) Any house of worship; used especially of Mormon churches.
  9. (figuratively) Any abode or dwelling place, or especially the human body as the temporary dwelling place of the soul, or life.
  10. (nautical) A hinged device allowing for the easy folding of a mast 90 degrees from perpendicular, as for transporting the boat on a trailer, or passing under a bridge.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


tabernacle (third-person singular simple present tabernacles, present participle tabernacling, simple past and past participle tabernacled)

  1. (intransitive) To dwell; to abide for a time.




tabernacle m (plural tabernacles)

  1. tabernacle
  2. (Quebec) Alternative form of tabarnak

Further reading[edit]