Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small defensive earthwork or fort.
  • n. A decorative wall bracket for holding candles or lights.
  • n. A flattened candlestick that has a handle.
  • n. Slang The human head or skull.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A light fixture.
  • n. A head or a skull.
  • n. A type of small fort or other fortification, especially as built to defend a pass or ford.
  • v. to impose a fine, a forfeit, or a mulct.
  • v. to shut within a sconce; to imprison.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fortification, or work for defense; a fort.
  • n. A hut for protection and shelter; a stall.
  • n. A piece of armor for the head; headpiece; helmet.
  • n. Fig.: The head; the skull; also, brains; sense; discretion.
  • n. A poll tax; a mulct or fine.
  • n. A protection for a light; a lantern or cased support for a candle; hence, a fixed hanging or projecting candlestick.
  • n. Hence, the circular tube, with a brim, in a candlestick, into which the candle is inserted.
  • n. A squinch.
  • n. A fragment of a floe of ice.
  • n. A fixed seat or shelf.
  • transitive v. To shut up in a sconce; to imprison; to insconce.
  • transitive v. To mulct; to fine.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fortify or defend with a sconce or block-house.
  • Same as ensconce.
  • To assess or tax at so much per head; mulct; fine; specifically, in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to put the name of in the college buttery-books by way of fine; mulct in a tankard of ale or the like for some offense. See the quotations.
  • n. A lantern with a protecting shade; a dark lantern; any lantern.
  • n. A candlestick having the form of a bracket projecting from a wall or column; also, a group of such candlesticks, forming, with an appliqué or flat, somewhat ornamented disk or plaque which seems to adhere to the wall, a decorative object. These were most commonly of brass during the years when sconces were most in use.
  • n. The socket for the candle in a candlestick of any form, especially when having a projecting rim around it.
  • n. A cover; a shelter; a protection; specifically, a screen or partition to cover or protect anything; a shed or hut for protection from the weather; a covered stall.
  • n. A work for defense, detached from the main works for some local object; a bulwark; a block-house; a fort, as for the defense of a pass or river.
  • n. A cover or protection for the head; a headpiece; a helmet.
  • n. Hence The head; the skull; the cranium, especially the top of it.
  • n. Brains; sense; wits; judgment or discretion.
  • n. A mulct; a fine. See sconce, v. t., 3.
  • n. A seat in old-fashioned open chimney-places; a chimney-seat.
  • n. A fragment of an ice-floe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a shelter or screen providing protection from enemy fire or from the weather
  • n. a candle or flaming torch secured in a sconce
  • n. a decorative wall bracket for holding candles or other sources of light
  • n. a small fort or earthwork defending a ford, pass, or castle gate

Etymologies

Dutch schans, from German Schanze, from Middle High German.
Middle English, from Old French esconse, lantern, hiding place, from Medieval Latin scōnsa, from Latin abscōnsa, feminine past participle of abscondere, to hide away : ab-, abs-, away; see ab-1 + condere, to preserve.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French esconce ("lantern"), from Latin absconsus ("hidden"), perfect passive participle of abscondō ("hide").[2] Cognate with abscond. (Wiktionary)
From Middle Dutch schans, cognate with German Schanze. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • "The lobby downstairs had been decorated with marble and bronze sconces. That was just a prelude. The lift opened to a staircase landing flooded with morning light from large dormer windows; it was big enough to hold a billiard tournament."
    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 18, 2008