[ fruhn-tis-pees, fron- ]
/ ˈfrʌn tɪsˌpis, ˈfrɒn- /


an illustrated leaf preceding the title page of a book.
Architecture. a façade, or a part or feature of a façade, often highlighted by ornamentation.


Origin of frontispiece

1590–1600; alteration (conformed to piece) of earlier frontispice < French < Medieval Latin frontispicium, equivalent to Latin fronti- front + -spicium (combining form representing specere to look at) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for frontispiece

British Dictionary definitions for frontispiece


/ (ˈfrʌntɪsˌpiːs) /


an illustration facing the title page of a book
the principal façade of a building; front
a pediment, esp an ornamented one, over a door, window, etc

Word Origin for frontispiece

C16 frontispice, from French, from Late Latin frontispicium façade, inspection of the forehead, from Latin frōns forehead + specere to look at; influenced by piece
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

Word Origin and History for frontispiece



1590s, "decorated entrance of a building," from Middle French frontispice, probably from Italian frontespizio and Late Latin frontispicium "facade," originally "a view of the forehead, judgment of character through facial features," from Latin frons (genitive frontis) "forehead" (see front (n.)) + specere "to look at" (see scope (n.1)). Sense of "illustration facing a book's title page" first recorded 1680s. The spelling alteration is apparently from confusion with piece.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper