Architectural Glossary

Welcome to the architectural glossary. This area of the museum has been provided to offer information concerning the architectural terms that deal with grotesques; both their usual locations and their surrounding structures. The terms have been provided by Russell Sturgis, writing in A Dictionary of Architecture and Building. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1902. There also exists an Illustrated Glossary, which you may also peruse. Hopefully, this area will be helpful to your further understanding of the grotesques environment. Thank-you.

Abacus: The uppermost member of a capital.

Apse: A nearly semicircular part of a building, forming a projection from the exterior wall, and the interior forming a large and deep niche.

Arcade: Two or more arches with their imposts, piers, columns, or the like taken together and considered a single architectural feature.

Arch: A structural member rounded vertically to span an opening or recess.

Bar: A piece or member of any material whose length is much greater than its lateral dimensions.

Base: The lowest part or the lowest main division of anything, as of a column, pier, the front of a building or the like.

Basilica: A Christian church of the earliest western or central Italian type, distinguished by a having a long and comparatively narrow nave and aisles with an apse at one end and a narthex at the other.

Bay: An opening, as of a window or door, or as between two columns or piers.

Belfry: A structure arranged for carrying large bells, and allowing of their proper service.

Buttress: Any structure put up to support or partly support or maintain another, as by resisting its tendency to fall or move sidewise; a stay or prop. (Flying: A structure of masonry by means of which the thrust of a vault is taken up or neutralized without the immediate proximity of a great mass of masonry.

Campanile: A bell tower of Italian design or general character.

Canopy: A roof like structure usually supported on pillars or projecting from a wall, and serving rather a decorative than a protective purpose.

Capital: The topmost member of a column, if separated from the column by distinct architectural treatment.

Chevet: The rounded end of a choir in a church.

Corbel: A bracket of that form which is best fitted to ordinary conditions of cut stone or of other masonry.

Cornice: The crowning member of a wall.

Cresting: An ornamental member, or a group or series of members, used to form a decorative finish at the top of any structure.

Crocket: An ornament consisting of a projecting piece of sculpture worked on the edge of a gable, on one of the sloping ridges of a spire, on an upright of ornamental character, such as the side pieces of choir stalls, or the like.

Cupola: A bowl shaped vault.

Facade: The architectural front of a building.

Finial: A boss, knob, or a more elaborate ornament at the point of a spire or pinnacle.

Gable: A more or less triangular-shaped piece of a wall closing the end of a double pitched or gabled roof.

Galilee: A subordinate and accessory room, usually near the entrance. (also used to refer to halls outside of chapels)

Jamb: One of the lateral upright surfaces of an opening; a piece forming the side of an opening.

Joint: The place at which two parts or pieces meet.

Lantern: Any structure rising above the roof of a building and having openings in its sides by which the interior of the building is lighted.

Lierne Rib: Any small subordinate rib inserted between the main ribs more often as an ornament than for any constructive reasons.

Narthex: The great porch or vestibule at the end farthest from the altar and sanctuary.

Nave: That part of a church which is nearest the common entrance.

Parapet: A dwarf wall or barrier built on the edge of a terrace, platform, bridge, balcony, or other elevated place, as a protection against falling; also above the cornice of a house, whether built with a steep or a flat roof.

Pendentive: A piece of masonry construction for filling in the space in the re-entrant angle of two walls.

Pier: Any more or less isolated mass of masonry, generally acting as a support; larger than columns.

Pinnacle: A subordinate vertical structure of masonry, generally more or less tapering, rising above the neighboring parts of the building.

Porch: A covered place of entrance and exit attached to a building and projecting from its main mass.

Shaft: An upright object, hish and comparatively small in horizontal dimensions.

Spire: Any slender, pointed erection, surmounting a building.

Squinch: An arch, a lintel, corbelling, or a system of such members, built across the interior corner of two walls, as at the top of a tower, to serve as a foundation for the diagonal or canted side of a superimposed octagonal spire or lantern.

Thrust: In an arch, the horizontal component of the reaction of the abutment.

Tracery: Design in pieced patterns, in which the openings show dark on light from without and light on dark from within, referring to windows.

Transept: Any large division of a building lying across, or in a direction contrary to the main axis.

Transom: A horizontal bar of stone, metal, or wood across a door or window opening at the top.

Turret: A small tower.

Tympanum: The triangular recessed space beneath the coping of a pedimant and between the raking cornice of the roof and the horizontal geison below.

Vault: An arch or a combination of arches used to cover a space. (Groined: formed by the intersection of two or more simple vaults, the groin being the salient angle made by two intersecting surfaces.)

Take a side journey to the Illustrated Glossary.

In case you entered the museum by a route other than the Introduction and need further explanation of the terms Streaker, Stroller and Student, please refer to the Introduction. Thank-you.

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