Difference Between Altar and Alter

Main Difference – Altar vs Alter

The two words altar and alter can be easily confused due to their one letter spelling difference. They are also homophones – words that have the same pronunciation. However, the meanings of these two words are vastly different. Altar is an area of religious worship whereas alter means to change something. This is the main difference between altar and alter.

Altar – Meaning and Usage

Altar is a noun which refers to a place of religious worship. This also refers to the place where various religious rituals take place. It is an elevated place or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted or on which sacrifices may be offered. This term is mainly used when we are talking about religious places or traditional ceremonies. The phrase ‘lead someone up the altar’ refers to marriage. The term altar basically comes from Latin altus meaning ‘high’. The following sentences will help you to understand the meaning of the noun, altar better.

The bride and the groom stood solemnly before the altar.

The stained glass behind the altar needs repairing.

The cloth which is used to cover the altar is known as an altar-cloth.

She was the heartless girl who left him at the altar.

Six bronze colored statues were placed around the altar.

You can’t stand at the altar like that.

People often make the mistake of using alter when they mean altar. This is more common than using altar for alter.

The members of the congregation filed up to the alter to receive the blessings.  ×

Have you seen the alter of the St. Mary’s Cathedral? ×Difference Between Altar and Alter

Alter – Meaning and Usage

Alter is a verb meaning to change or adjust something. It comes from the Latin alter meaning ‘other’. We use alter when we are talking about a change which is comparatively small but has a significant effect. Alter is typically used with reference to structural changes. The following sentences will help you to understand the meaning of the verb, alter better.

Would you like to alter the previous arrangement?

My mother promised to alter my new frock.

They made plans to alter the second floor of the building.

The lawyers convinced him to alter the contract at the last minute.

Can you please alter this dress by next Sunday?

Please let me know your new address, so that I can alter our address book.

It is easy to remember the spellings of alter by keeping in mind that alter is an action which requires an effort; effort is a word that starts with ‘e’ and alter is written with an ‘e’ and not with an ‘a’.Main Difference - Altar vs Alter

Difference Between Altar and Alter

Grammatical Category

Altar is a noun.

Alter is a verb.


Altar is an elevated place or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted.

Alter is to make a change or adjustment, typically a structural change.


Altar is mainly used in a religious context.

Alter is often used in different contexts.Difference Between Altar and Alter- infographic

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