Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chiefly British A pantry.
  • n. A niche near the altar of a church for keeping sacred vessels and vestments.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A storehouse. (Especially a niche or recess in a wall used for storage.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. In churches, a kind of closet, niche, cupboard, or locker for utensils, vestments, etc.
  • n. A store closet, as a pantry, cupboard, etc.
  • n. Almonry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A place for keeping things; a storehouse, storeroom, closet, pantry, cupboard, press, safe, locker, chest. Specifically
  • n. A place for keeping victuals; a pantry, cupboard, or meat-safe.
  • n. Hir. Will not any fool take me for a wise man now, seeing me draw out of the pit of my treasury this little god with his belly full of gold?
  • n. In ancient churches, a niche or recess, fitted with a door, in the wall near the altar, in which the sacred utensils were deposited.
  • n. A place for keeping books; a library.
  • n. Same as almonry.

Etymologies

Middle English almerie, place for safekeeping, from Old French almarie, from Medieval Latin almārium, from Latin armārium, closet, from arma, tools; see arm2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman almarie, aumer et al., Old French almarie, and their source, Latin armārium. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But before I went, I looked around, and espied an ambry fashioned in the wall of the bed-lane, and the door was half open; and the said ambry was wrought of the daintiest, all of gold and pearl and gems; and I said to myself: Herein is some treasure, and this is a tide of war.

    The Water of the Wondrous Isles

  • So I opened the ambry, and within it was even more gloriously wrought than without; and there was nought therein, save

    The Water of the Wondrous Isles

  • The only furniture, excepting a washing-tub and a wooden press, called in Scotland an ambry, sorely decayed, was a large wooden bed, planked, as is usual, all around, and opening by a sliding panel.

    Waverley

  • "Have you seen to putting the best platters and ewers in the ambry?"

    Soul of the Fire

  • In the south wall there is a beautiful piscina, and in the north wall an ambry with a small stone penthouse; an octagonal baptismal font of remarkable design stands against the east wall of the aisle.

    Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys

  • There is an ambry in the south wall near the east end, and the doorway is semicircular and of Norman character.

    Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys

  • The place wherein this chapel and alms-house standeth was called the Elemosinary, or almonry, now corruptly the ambry, for that the alms of the Abbey were there distributed to the poor; and therein Islip, abbot of Westminster, erected the first press of book-printing that ever was in England, about the year of Christ 1471.

    Notes and Queries, Number 37, July 13, 1850

  • He had refused definitely to enter the atelier of the gentleman who pleased his clients by ingeniously simulating the grain of walnut; and though he had seen the old oaken ambry kicked out contemptuously into the farmyard, serving perhaps the necessities of hens or pigs, he would not apprentice himself to the masters of veneer.

    The Hill of Dreams

  • Coming to a fine carved ambry, he hesitated, then stood still.

    Foes

  • He opened a door of the ambry, pulled out a drawer, and, pressing some spring, revealed a narrow, secret shelf.

    Foes

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