late 14c., peue, "raised, bench-like seat for certain worshipers" (ladies, important men, etc.), frequently enclosed, from Old French puie, puy "balcony, elevated place or seat; elevation, hill, mound," from Latin podia, plural of podium "elevated place," also "front balcony in a Roman theater" (where distinguished persons sat; see podium). Meaning "fixed bench with a back, for a number of worshipers" is attested from 1630s. Related: Pewholder; pew-rent.
updated on May 11, 2020