Definitions

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

  • noun Architecture A sculptured ornament, often in the shape of a leaf or flower, at the top of a gable, pinnacle, or similar structure.
  • noun An ornamental terminating part, as on a post or piece of furniture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In architecture, the ornamental termination or apex of a pinnacle, canopy, gable, or the like, consisting usually of a knob or composition of foliage. By older writers the word is used to denote not only the termination, but the whole pyramidal mass.
  • noun In decorative art, by extension from architecture, the ornamental termination, usually a knob, cluster of leaves, or the like, of any upward-pointing part.

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

  • noun (Arch.) The knot or bunch of foliage, or foliated ornament, that forms the upper extremity of a pinnacle in Gothic architecture; sometimes, the pinnacle itself.

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

  • noun The knot or bunch of foliage, or foliated ornament, that forms the upper extremity of a pinnacle in Gothic architecture.
  • noun Any decorative fitting at the peak of a gable, or on the top of a flagpole, fence post or staircase newel post.

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

  • noun an ornament at the top of a spire or gable; usually a foliated fleur-de-lis

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, last, finial, variant of final; see final.]

Examples

  • Twentieth-century blue-blood decorator Sister Parish, America's version of Ms. Castaing, was asked once why she had put a worthless giltwood curtain finial atop a lovely antique clock in her entrance hall.

    The Decorator's Decorator

  • These desks evidently stood in the old library against the shafts of the roof, for one of the ends has been hollowed out in each to receive the shaft; and the finial, which is left plain on that side, is bent over slightly, to admit it under the brace (fig. 39).

    The Care of Books

  • On a crystal goddess's head, long described as a finial for a staff, she found a loop that suggests that the carving was actually a pendant.

    NYT > Home Page

  • The head stonemason for the cathedral, Joseph Alonso, said what lies beneath the top one-third of the pinnacle, known as the finial, is where the stabilization process really begins.

    CNN.com

  • On a crystal goddess's head, long described as a finial for a staff, she found a loop that suggests that the carving was actually a pendant.

    NYT > Home Page

  • For fastening a turned ornament (or "finial") to the end of a cornice pole a double pointed screw (known in the trade as a "dowel screw") is used, one half of which is screwed into each part of the pieces to be joined.

    Woodwork Joints How they are Set Out, How Made and Where Used.

  • An old woman who lives in Danoke Village near the pagoda said, What happened was around 2pm, the hti-taw (ornamental finial of the pagoda) collapsed first, yet there was no strong wind blowing.

    Global Voices in English » Myanmar: Collapse of an Ancient Pagoda

  • In case you do not know a finial is: a decorative, terminal part at the tip of a spire, gable, lamp shade support, etc., or projecting upward from the top of a cabinet, breakfront, etc. Thanks, shoe

    Finial

  • So instead I walk to the top of the stairs and put my hand on the top of the banister there, where the finial is formed into a pineapple shape.

    The Kitchen Daughter

  • Much like a creme brulee, the finial layer of yogurt is topped of with a generous coating of sugar that is caramelized using a kitchen torch.

    Bruléed Yogurt Parfait | Baking Bites

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