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From Ancient Greek ἄμβωνος ‎(ámbōnos) (ambonos), genitive form of ἄμβων ‎(ámbōn) (ambos) "rim, edge", and κλαστός ‎(klastós) (klastos) "broken". Hence, literally, "one who wishes to tear down screens", in reference to the rood screens that separated the chancel (where priests were) from the nave (where the congregation was) in a medieval church.


ambonoclast ‎(plural ambonoclasts)

  1. (pejorative) One who wishes to excessively modernize churches, particularly by removing traditional screens.
    • 1861, A. Welby Pugin, Recollections of A.N. Welby Pugin, and His Father, Augustus Pugin: With Notices of Their Works , page 153:
      "The principal characteristics of modern ambonoclasts may be summed up as follows:"
    • 1915, Edward Walford et al., The Antiquary, page 331 [1]:
      "ambonoclasts who destroyed so much screenwork during the last century ..."
    • 1931, Basil Clarke, Church Builders of the Nineteenth Century: A Study of the Gothic Revival in England, Macmillan, page 66 [2]:
      "Wyatt's policy, too, was to remove screens and to open a building from end to end: he was an ambonoclast. "

Derived termsEdit