n. pl. be·ma·ta (-mə-tə)
1. Judaism The platform from which services are conducted in a synagogue. Also called almemar.
2. Eastern Orthodox Church The area of a church in which the altar is located; the sanctuary.
[Ultimately from Greek bēma, step, platform; see gwā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.