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[hahy-puh-kawst, hip-uh-] /ˈhaɪ pəˌkɔst, ˈhɪp ə-/
a hollow space or system of channels in the floor or walls of some ancient Roman buildings that provided a central heating system by receiving and distributing the heat from a furnace.
Origin of hypocaust
1670-80; < Latin hypocaustum < Greek hypókauston room heated from below, equivalent to hypo- hypo- + kaustón, neuter of kaustós (verbal adjective) heated, burned; see caustic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hypocaust
Historical Examples
  • In Bridge Street is a hypocaust remaining just where the Romans left it.

    Cheshire Charles E. Kelsey
  • It had no cloisters, no hypocaust, no suite or sequence of rooms.

    London Walter Besant
  • If there are no baths there is at all events an excellent specimen of a hypocaust, or Roman heating arrangement, to be seen.

    The Isle of Wight G. E. Mitton
  • However, after the wood in the hypocaust was once well charred, the smoke was not so troublesome.

    Stories of Useful Inventions Samuel Eagle Foreman
  • Doubtless we got our idea of the furnace from the Roman hypocaust, although the Roman invention had no special pipe for the smoke.

    Stories of Useful Inventions Samuel Eagle Foreman
  • Indeed, the hypocaust had many of the features and many of the merits of our modern furnace.

    Stories of Useful Inventions Samuel Eagle Foreman
  • In addition to the hypocaust under the floor the wall was lined with flue tiles.

  • Pliny describes a bedchamber in his villa warmed by the hypocaust and the tiles, with narrow openings.

British Dictionary definitions for hypocaust


an ancient Roman heating system in which hot air circulated under the floor and between double walls
Word Origin
C17: from Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston room heated from below, from hupokaiein to light a fire beneath, from hypo- + kaiein to burn
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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