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[kawr-nis] /ˈkɔr nɪs/
  1. any prominent, continuous, horizontally projecting feature surmounting a wall or other construction, or dividing it horizontally for compositional purposes.
  2. the uppermost member of a classical entablature, consisting of a bed molding, a corona, and a cymatium, with rows of dentils, modillions, etc., often placed between the bed molding and the corona.
any of various other ornamental horizontal moldings or bands, as for concealing hooks or rods from which curtains are hung or for supporting picture hooks.
a mass of snow, ice, etc., projecting over a mountain ridge.
verb (used with object), corniced, cornicing.
to furnish or finish with a cornice.
Origin of cornice
1555-65; < Italian: literally, crow (< Latin cornix); for the meaning, compare Greek korṓnē crow, crown Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cornice
Historical Examples
  • Of the cornice only the bed mould, carved with a leaf and tongue, remains.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Alexander Van Millingen
  • The windows are lintelled and the cornice is of the typical Turkish form.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Alexander Van Millingen
  • The supporting part in a Greek Doric cornice is extremely small.

    Architecture Thomas Roger Smith
  • Occasionally there were a cornice and pediment over the entrance.

    Architecture Thomas Roger Smith
  • The entablature is a positive triumph in cornice, frieze and architrave.

  • The cornice, of which the frieze is adorned with eight masks, rests on corbels.

    Portuguese Architecture Walter Crum Watson
  • Personally, I should be inclined to try the first cornice anyhow.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • If this were really a cornice it must now be very thin, he thought.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • I threw my legs over the sill, and sitting on the stone surveyed the cornice.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • But I did not like to think of her going up and down the cornice.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
British Dictionary definitions for cornice


  1. the top projecting mouldings of an entablature
  2. a continuous horizontal projecting course or moulding at the top of a wall, building, etc
an overhanging ledge of snow formed by the wind on the edge of a mountain ridge, cliff, or corrie
(transitive) (architect) to furnish or decorate with or as if with a cornice
Word Origin
C16: from Old French, from Italian, perhaps from Latin cornix crow, but influenced also by Latin corōnis decorative flourish used by scribes, from Greek korōnis, from korōnē curved object, crown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for cornice
noun's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for cornice

1560s, from Middle French corniche (16c.) or directly from Italian cornice "ornamental molding along a wall," perhaps from Latin coronis "curved line, flourish in writing," from Greek koronis "curved object" (see crown). Perhaps influenced by (or even from) Latin cornicem, accusative of cornix "crow" (cf. corbel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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