Strictly speaking a wat is a Buddhist sacred precinct with monks' quarters, the temple proper, an edifice housing a large image of Buddha, and a structure for lessons. A Buddhist site without a minimum of three resident monks cannot correctly be described as a wat, although the term is frequently used more loosely, even for ruins of ancient temples. (As a transitive or intransitive verb, wat means to measure, to take measurements; compare templum, from which temple derives, having the same root as template.)
In Cambodia, a wat is used to refer to all kinds of places of worship. Technically, wat generally refers to a Buddhist place of worship, but the technical term is វត្តពុទ្ធសាសនា (wat pootasasna). A Christian church can be referred as វិហារយេស៊ូ(vihear yeasu). Angkor Wat អង្គរវត្ត means city of temples.
In everyday language in Thailand, a wat is any place of worship except a mosque (Thai สุเหร่า - su-rao; or มัสยิด - Thai rendering of masjid; a mosque may also be described as โบสถ์ของอิสลาม - bot khong Is-a-lam). Thus wat cheen is a Chinese temple (either Buddhist or Taoist), wat khaek is a Hindu temple, and wat kris or wat krit or wat farang is a Christian church, though Thai โบสถ์ (โบด bot) may be used descriptively as with mosque.
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