Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
click for a larger image
plan of the 4th-century ad
St. Peter's Basilica
Rome, Italy
A. apse
B. transept
C. nave
D. aisles
E. narthex
F. atrium


1. A portico or lobby of an early Christian or Byzantine church or basilica, originally separated from the nave by a railing or screen.
2. An entrance hall leading to the nave of a church.

[Late Greek narthēx, from Greek, giant fennel (plant of the genus Ferula, whose hollow stem could be used to store items), case for storing unguents (perhaps used in Late Greek to describe narthexes in churches because these are sometimes narrow passages or because catechumens were anointed there before baptism); perhaps akin to Sanskrit naḍaḥ, reed.]


1. (Architecture) a portico at the west end of a basilica or church, esp one that is at right angles to the nave
2. (Architecture) a rectangular entrance hall between the porch and nave of a church
[C17: via Latin from Medieval Greek: enclosed porch, enclosure (earlier: box), from Greek narthēx giant fennel, the stems of which were used to make boxes]


(ˈnɑr θɛks)

an enclosed passage between the main entrance and the nave of a church.
[1665–75; < Late Greek nárthēx]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.narthex - portico at the west end of an early Christian basilica or churchnarthex - portico at the west end of an early Christian basilica or church
basilica - an early Christian church designed like a Roman basilica; or a Roman Catholic church or cathedral accorded certain privileges; "the church was raised to the rank of basilica"
portico - a porch or entrance to a building consisting of a covered and often columned area
2.narthex - a vestibule leading to the nave of a churchnarthex - a vestibule leading to the nave of a church
antechamber, anteroom, entrance hall, foyer, lobby, vestibule, hall - a large entrance or reception room or area
church building, church - a place for public (especially Christian) worship; "the church was empty"
References in periodicals archive ?
Contract notice: buildings - refurbishment of the saint-paul college narthex roof - adapted procedure
Indeed, in order to create space for the sacrificed person's body, the head mason was forced to change the original form of the church by extending the narthex.
Bioassay-guided isolation of sesquiterpene coumarins from Ferula narthex Bioss: a new anticancer agent.
For every disapproving look toward a young family with a squawking baby, there are three mumbled conversations in the narthex about young people's drop in Mass attendance.
Essential oils of Melia azedarach, Linium usitatissium, Ferula narthex, Sasurrea costus, Viola odorata and Achyranthus aspera were tested for their contact toxicity and growth regulatory effects against Cryptolestes ferrugineus (Stephens).
For the narthex, he commissioned two mosaic panels: in one, with George prostrated at her feet, the Virgin holds her Greek petition urging Christ to protect George and his family and to pardon their sins; in the other, Christ clutches his mother's petition on behalf of George, and places the royal diadem directly upon the head of Roger who wears Byzantine imperial robes.
United in that desire, we step to the rail, take upon our tongues the Eucharist; then file, silent, through the minuscule narthex where the bronze tablet lists its roll of faithfully departed, in relief, above the cast iron holy water font: dead boys from the old wars-- World Wars I and II, Korea, and now the inaugural names of our war, Vietnam.
The interior moves from a dark narthex, through fretted iron gates, into a much lighter space of worship.
One such beneficiary was the Narthex Centre in Sparkhill which received enough food for 70 meals.
From an architectural point of view, the Enei Church belongs to the category of churches with a bottony plan, with small lateral apse, slightly over enlarged narthex, a tower on the nave and a bell tower on the narthex, a type borrowed and developed during the following century.
The new building is a modern and light complex which comprises the sanctuary, the nave, the Blessed Sacrament chapel, the sacristy, the church hall, the narthex (the entrance porch) and the campanile.
Other outstanding windows depict the three Biblical aspects of Faith, Hope and Love in the narthex.