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

  • n. A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall.
  • n. The uppermost part of an entablature.
  • n. The molding at the top of the walls of a room, between the walls and ceiling.
  • n. An ornamental horizontal molding or frame used to conceal rods, picture hooks, or other devices.
  • transitive v. To supply, decorate, or finish with or as if with a cornice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. A decorative element applied at the topmost part of the wall of a room, as with a crown moulding.
  • n. A decorative element at the topmost portion of certain pieces of furniture, as with a highboy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any horizontal, molded or otherwise decorated projection which crowns or finishes the part to which it is affixed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To furnish or finish with a cornice.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An ornamental molding, usually of plaster, running round the walls of a room just below the ceiling.
  • n. In upholstery, an ornamental band or molding which covers and conceals the rod or hooks from which curtains, etc., are hung.
  • n. 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.

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

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


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).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps from Latin cornix, 'crow', influenced by Ancient Greek κορωνίς (koronis, "crown"). (Wiktionary)



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  • 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

  • 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