Difference between Altar and Alter

Key Difference: Altar is a common structure in most religions. It is a table or flat surface upon which offerings and sacrifices are made. Alter, on the other hand, is a verb that denotes change. The official definition of alter states that it is ‘to change or make different. Even though the two words, Altar and Alter, sound similar they actually denote two completely different things. In fact, Altar and Alter are not even remotely similar other than the fact that they are spelt just one letter differently. This is also the main reason why they are confused. In practicality, altar is a religious structure, whereas alter is a verb that depicts change.

Altar is a common structure in most religions. It is a table or flat surface upon which offerings and sacrifices are made. Depending on the religions, these offerings and sacrifices can be made to a deity or the universe itself. Altars can be found in shrines, temples, churches, as well as other places of worship. Altars were also commonly used in ancient and pagan religions. Today, they are still used in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, as well as in Neopaganism and Ceremonial Magic.

 

Alter, on the other hand, is a verb that denotes change. The official definition of alter states that it is ‘to change or make different.’ It depicts something that need to be changed, usually for the better, but not necessarily so. The term is often used in context of clothes, where altering the clothes is making changes to the clothes so that they fit better. This of course includes changes to the hem line, sleeves, tucking the waist, etc.

Another definition of alter is the removal of the sex organs of an animal so that the animal is unable to reproduce. This is most common is house pets, such as cats and dogs. This procedure is also commonly known as neutering and/or spaying.

Comparison between Altar and Alter:

 

Altar

Alter

Description

An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes.

To make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; modify

Type

Noun

Verb

Implication

Religious

Grammar

Example

Mary placed the flowers on the altar.

Mary altered the dress that she was going to wear.

Image Courtesy: ma-nan-cial.blogspot.com, teenology101.seattlechildrens.org

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