Definition of dossal in English:



  • An ornamental cloth hung behind an altar in a church or at the sides of a chancel.

    • ‘Another work with Petrine iconography is a thirteenth-century dossal for, most likely, the little Florentine church.’
    • ‘These dossals have both been cut down at either end; they each most likely had two extra figures of saints.’
    • ‘Altar cloths and Communion lines were replaced regularly, it seemed, and dossals or backdrops have come and gone.’
    • ‘Very tasteful dossals of purple and white hung the walls on either side of the altar.’
    • ‘Behind the altar hang the dossals or draperies.’
    • ‘The Frontispiece shows the high altar of Westminster Abbey vested for Lent in a frontal, frontlet, and dossal of white linen.’
    • ‘The tall ladder was set up, the long white dossals were hung.’
    • ‘The dossals were decorated with pictures and stories of the saints, which had an educational as well as devotional function.’
    • ‘The dossal was up - in all its purple glory.’
    • ‘They added a loom in the mid-1960's and she made dossals, tapestries, pillows, lampshades and other handmade fabric wares.’
    • ‘It donated the framed dossals of St. Francis and St. Clare, which were blessed and placed in the Eucharistic Chapel in November 1996.’
    • ‘Interesting are also some easel works by Titian, Tiepolo, Giorgione and by Tintoretto himself, as well as the dossals by Giovanni Marchiori and the wooden sculptures by Francesco Pianta.’
    • ‘It was made ready, its stage transformed into a sanctuary and choir, an altar erected with dossals and riddles, hanging crucifix and candles.’
    • ‘I was a pastor several years ago, but never knew if we had dossals.’
    drape, curtain, drop, drop cloth, drop curtain, drop scene, tableau curtain, frontal, dossal


Mid 17th century (denoting an ornamental cloth for covering the back of a seat): from medieval Latin dossale, from late Latin dorsalis ‘on the back’ (see dorsal).