Definitions

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

  • noun An eyelike opening or ornament, especially.
  • noun A round window.
  • noun A circular opening at the apex of a dome.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In architecture, a circular window, usually a small one without tracery or other special subdivision; also an opening at the summit of a dome-shaped vault.
  • noun In anatomy, the eye; an eye; specifically, a compound eye.
  • noun In botany, an eye; a leaf-bud.
  • noun A European plant, Inula Oculus-Christi, having astringent properties.

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

  • noun An eye.
  • noun (Arch.) A round window, usually a small one.
  • noun (Bot.) A leaf bud.

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

  • noun A window or other opening that has an oval or circular shape (as of an eye).

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

  • noun the organ of sight

Etymologies

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

[Medieval Latin, from Latin, eye; see okw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin oculus ("eye").

Examples

  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/John Blaustein An almond-shaped skylight or "oculus" is at the top of the building, through which sunlight shines in different patterns throughout the day.

    Inside Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light

  • "oculus" was sometimes applied to things that were seen to resemble eyes, and one such thing was the bud of a plant.

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

  • "May 31, 2009: rose petals rain through the open oculus of Rome's Pantheon (the Basilica of Sancta Maria ad Martyres) during their annual celebration on the Solemnity of Pentecost while the Veni Sancte Spiritus is chanted."

    Pentecost Sunday at the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyres (the Pantheon)

  • What you notice as you approach Centra from the Metropark train station, a five- minute walk down the road, is its new fourth floor, which cantilevers out over a plaza and completes the square of the "L", leaving an oculus in the center.

    Transforming an Ugly Duckling

  • St. John Cantius explains: In Rome on Pentecost, in the Pantheon (i.e. the minor basilica called S. Maria ad martyres) there is a beautiful and ancient custom of dropping rose petals through the circular oculus opening at the top of the dome.

    A Shower of Roses

  • I evoked the oculus in the coffered dome, an engineering feat as well as a symbolic gesture of colossal proportions.

    Alla Kazovsky: Orchestrating Experience

  • But he is most jazzed by the atmospheric breakfast parlor, a domed lair that's dramatically lit by concealed skylights and a stained-glass oculus.

    The Lived-In Look

  • I evoked the oculus in the coffered dome, an engineering feat as well as a symbolic gesture of colossal proportions.

    Alla Kazovsky: Orchestrating Experience

  • The walls rise to nearly 100 feet before embracing a large almond shaped ‘oculus’ window.

    A Hermeneutic of Rupture?

  • And OD is short for oculus dexter, or right eye, not for overdose.

    What the Doctor Is Really Thinking

Comments

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  • A round, central opening or "eye" in a dome. (From ArtLex)

    June 5, 2008

  • I'm not sure as I read this some years ago, and it may have been in a book on Neo-Classicism by Mario Praz, but when commenting on the oculus in the Pantheon, it was referred to as the "Eye of God".

    November 25, 2012