See more synonyms for gargoyle on
  1. a grotesquely carved figure of a human or animal.
  2. 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 formsgar·goyled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of gargoyle

British Dictionary definitions for gargoyle


  1. a waterspout carved in the form of a grotesque face or creature and projecting from a roof gutter, esp of a Gothic church
  2. any grotesque ornament or projection, esp on a building
  3. a person with a grotesque appearance
Derived Formsgargoyled, adjective

Word Origin for gargoyle

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

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

gargoyle in Culture


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

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