from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall.
  • noun The uppermost part of an entablature.
  • noun A strip of molding that runs along the upper part of a wall just below the ceiling.
  • noun An ornamental horizontal molding or frame used to conceal rods, picture hooks, or other devices.
  • noun An overhanging mass of windblown snow on a ridge or the crest of a mountain.
  • transitive verb To supply, decorate, or finish with or as if with a cornice.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In architecture, any molded projection which crowns or finishes the part to which it is affixed; specifically, the third or uppermost division of an entablature, resting on the frieze. (See column.) When the crowning course of a wall is plain, it is usually called a coping.
  • noun An ornamental molding, usually of plaster, running round the walls of a room just below the ceiling.
  • noun In upholstery, an ornamental band or molding which covers and conceals the rod or hooks from which curtains, etc., are hung.
  • noun A molding or strip of wood, plain or gilded, fastened to the walls of a room, at the proper height from the floor, to serve as a support for picture-hooks; a picture-cornice.
  • To furnish or finish with a cornice.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Arch.) Any horizontal, molded or otherwise decorated projection which crowns or finishes the part to which it is affixed.
  • noun the ring on a cannon next behind the muzzle ring.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun architecture A horizontal architectural element of a building, projecting forward from the main walls, originally used as a means of directing rainwater away from the building's walls. See also: eaves, fascia.
  • noun A decorative element applied at the topmost part of the wall of a room, as with a crown moulding.
  • noun A decorative element at the topmost portion of certain pieces of furniture, as with a highboy.

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

  • noun a decorative framework to conceal curtain fixtures at the top of a window casing
  • noun a molding at the corner between the ceiling and the top of a wall
  • verb furnish with a cornice
  • noun the topmost projecting part of an entablature


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

[Obsolete French, from Italian, possibly from Latin cornīx, cornīc-, crow, from its resemblance to a crow's beak (influenced by Greek korōnis, curved line, flourish).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Perhaps from Latin cornix, 'crow', influenced by Ancient Greek κορωνίς (koronis, "crown").



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  • We paused before a house that seemed

    A swelling of the ground--

    The roof was scarcely visible--

    The cornice--but a mound

    -Emily Dickinson, from 27 ('Because I could not stop for Death')

    July 17, 2009

  • in ice and snow, it's the snow at the top of a mountain which is wind and turbulence sculpted into an overhang

    February 12, 2013