Definition of retable in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈteɪb(ə)l/
(also retablo /rɪˈtɑːbləʊ/)

noun (plural retables or retablos)

1A frame or shelf enclosing decorated panels or revered objects above and behind an altar.
Example sentences
  • Through the screen's open central doorway a carved retable can be seen, but the altar itself is obscured by two angels who occupy the space, singing from a book.
  • The Keldermans family regularly planned or produced works of microarchitecture - choir screens, retables, tabernacles, and mantelpieces - and several of their designs were stipulated as prototypes for other buildings.
  • This relationship to Netherlandish wooden retables provides several clues both to the meaning of the gates and their method of production.
1.1A painting or other image above and behind an altar: the retable of St Vincent
More example sentences
  • In her paintings, she emphasized her Indian heritage, borrowing from ancient Mexican and popular art forms, such as retablos, or votive paintings.
  • Some non-funerary monumental medieval and early-renaissance retablos also seem to have incorporated images of the Vir Dolorum as a centrepiece, even when such works bore dedications to the Virgin.
  • The most important form of folk painting is the retablo, which depicts a miraculous event.


Early 19th century: from French rétable, from Spanish retablo, from medieval Latin retrotabulum 'rear table', from Latin retro 'backwards' + tabula 'table'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: re|table

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