Architectural Terminology

By: Maddie Dickson

Arch

  1. A curved masonry construction for spanning an opening, consisting of a number of wedgelike stones, bricks, or the like, set with the narrower side toward the opening in such a way that forces on the arch are transmitted as vertical or oblique stresses on either side of the opening.
  2. An upwardly curved construction, as of steel or timber functioning in the manner of a masonry arch.
  3. A doorway, gateway, etc., having a curved head; an archway.
  4. The curved head of an opening, as a doorway.

Chair Rail

1. A molding on an interior wall for preventing the backs of chairs from rubbing against plaster.

Column Capital

1. A supporting pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a capital.

2. Something resembling an architectural pillar in form or function.

Dormer

1. Also called dormer window; a vertical window in a projection built out from a sloping roof.

2. The entire projecting structure.

Fanlight

1. A window over a door or another window, especially one having the form of a semicircle or of half an ellipse.

Fluting

1. Something having ornamental grooves, as a Greek column.

Masonry

1. The building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar.

Parapet

  1. A defensive wall or elevation, as of earth or stone, in a fortification.
  2. An elevation raised above the main wall or rampart of a permanent fortification.

Pilaster

1. A shallow rectangular feature projecting from a wall, having a capital and base and usually imitating the form of a column.

Portico

1. A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns or piers, usually attached to a building as a porch.

Roof

1. The external upper covering of a house or other building.

Stucco

1. An exterior finish for masonry or frame walls, usually composed of cement, sand, and hydrated lime mixed with water and laid on wet.

2. Any of various fine plasters for decorative work, moldings, etc.

3. Any of various finishes made with cement, plaster, or mortar, as albarium.

4. A wall, facing, molding, or other work made of such materials.

Wainscot

1. Wood, especially oak and usually in the form of paneling, for lining interior walls.

2. The lining itself, especially as covering the lower portion of a wall.
3. A dado, especially of wood, lining an interior wall.

Brackets

1. A support, as of metal or wood, projecting from a wall or the like to hold or bear the weight of a shelf, part of a cornice, etc.

Chimney

1. A structure, usually vertical, containing a passage or flue by which the smoke, gases, etc., of a fire or furnace are carried off and by means of which a draft is created.

2. The part of such a structure that rises above a roof.

Corbel

1. Any bracket, especially one of brick or stone, usually of slight extent.

2. A short horizontal timber supporting a girder.

Eaves

1. The overhanging lower edge of a roof.

Finial

1. Relatively small, ornamental, terminal feature at the top of a gable, pinnacle, etc.

Frieze


  1. The part of a classical entablature between the architrave and the cornice, usually decorated with sculpture in low relief.
  2. Any decorative band on an outside wall, broader than a stringcourse and bearing lettering, sculpture, etc.

Molding


  1. Any of various long, narrow, ornamental surfaces that are either continuous or discontinuous, with uniform cross sections for the full length and a strikingly modeled profile that casts strong shadows: used on frames, tables, etc., and certain architectural members, as cornices, stringcourses, or bases.
  2. A strip of wood, stone, etc., having such a surface.

Pediment

1. A low gable, typically triangular with a horizontal cornice and raking cornices, surmounting a colonnade, an end wall, or a major division of a façade.

Pillar

1. An upright shaft or structure, of stone, brick, or other material, relatively slender in proportion to its height, and of any shape in section, used as a building support, or standing alone, as for a monument.

Quoins

1. An external solid angle of a wall or the like.

2. One of the stones forming it; cornerstone.
3. Any of various bricks of standard shape for forming corners of brick walls or the like.

4. A wedge-shaped piece of wood, stone, or other material, used for any of various purposes.

Sill

1. A horizontal timber, block, or the like serving as a foundation of a wall, house, etc.

2. The horizontal piece or member beneath a window, door, or other opening.

Tower

1. A building or structure high in proportion to its lateral dimensions, either isolated or forming part of a building.

2. Such a structure used as or intended for a stronghold, fortress, prison, etc.

3. Any of various fully enclosed fireproof housings for vertical communications, as staircases, between the stories of a building.

4. Any structure, contrivance, or object that resembles or suggests a tower.

5. A tall, movable structure used in ancient and medieval warfare in storming a fortified place.

6. A tall, vertical case with accessible horizontal drive bays, designed to house a computer system standing on a desk or floor.

Buttress

1. Any external prop or support built to steady a structure by opposing its outward thrusts, especially a projecting support built into or against the outside of a masonry wall.

Column

1. A rigid, relatively slender, upright support, composed of relatively few pieces.

2. A decorative pillar, most often composed of stone and typically having a cylindrical or polygonal shaft with a capital and usually a base.

Cupola

1. A light structure on a dome or roof, serving as a belfry, lantern, or belvedere.

2. A dome, especially one covering a circular or polygonal area.

Façade


  1. The front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one.
  2. Any side of a building facing a public way or space and finished accordingly.

Floor Plan

1. A diagram of one room, apartment, or entire floor of a building, usually drawn to scale.

Lintel

1. A horizontal architectural member supporting the weight above an opening, as a window or a door.

Mullions

1. A vertical member, as of stone or wood, between the lights of a window, the panels in wainscoting, or the like.

2. One of the radiating bars of a rose window or the like.

Pendant

1. An ornament suspended from a roof, vault, or ceiling.

2. A hanging electrical lighting fixture; chandelier.

Porch

1. An exterior appendage to a building, forming a covered approach or vestibule to a doorway.

Rafters

1. Any of a series of timbers or the like, usually having a pronounced slope, for supporting the sheathing and covering of a roof.

Stoop

1. Small staircase ending in a platform and leading to the entrance of an apartment building or other building.

Transom Light

1. A crossbar of wood or stone, dividing a window horizontally.

2. A window above such a cross piece.