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[gahr-goil] /ˈgɑr gɔɪl/
a grotesquely carved figure of a human or animal.
a spout, terminating in a grotesque representation of a human or animal figure with open mouth, projecting from the gutter of a building for throwing rain water clear of a building.
Origin of gargoyle
1250-1300; Middle English gargoile < Old French gargouille, gargoule literally, throat; see gargle
Related forms
gargoyled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gargoyle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Know this, gargoyle with the wiry thatch, no engagement should keep him from answering the call of the Mystic Brethren.

    The Hero of Garside School J. Harwood Panting
  • It is like Socrates, that head; and like a gargoyle on the tower of Notre Dame.

    Suspended Judgments John Cowper Powys
  • Like a gargoyle gone mad it reeled back towards the startled rank of spearmen.

  • You're not such a bad sort of fellow, after all, for a gargoyle!

    The Hero of Garside School J. Harwood Panting
  • What could Wyndham want with a little quiet talk with a gargoyle?

    The Hero of Garside School J. Harwood Panting
  • I only saw and smelled the flowers; gargoyle looked as if he felt them!

  • It splashes from the lead conduit of a gargoyle, and falls from it in turmoil on the stones in the Cathedral square.

    Some Imagist Poets Richard Aldington
  • He is too much the gargoyle himself for the delights of dizziness.

    Journeys to Bagdad Charles S. Brooks
  • Plunger was one of the earliest to obtain a copy of the gargoyle Record.

    The Hero of Garside School J. Harwood Panting
British Dictionary definitions for gargoyle


a waterspout carved in the form of a grotesque face or creature and projecting from a roof gutter, esp of a Gothic church
any grotesque ornament or projection, esp on a building
a person with a grotesque appearance
Derived Forms
gargoyled, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old French gargouille gargoyle, throat; see gargle
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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Word Origin and History for gargoyle

"grotesque carved waterspout," late 13c., gargurl, from Old French gargole "throat, waterspout" (see gargle).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gargoyle in Culture

gargoyle definition

A sculpture depicting grotesque human shapes or evil spirits used in many buildings of the Middle Ages, most notably on Gothic cathedrals. Some gargoyles drained rainwater, sending it clear of the walls of the building.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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