[hahy-puh-kawst, hip-uh-]


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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hypocaust

Historical Examples of hypocaust

  • In Bridge Street is a hypocaust remaining just where the Romans left it.


    Charles E. Kelsey

  • It had no cloisters, no hypocaust, no suite or sequence of rooms.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for hypocaust



an ancient Roman heating system in which hot air circulated under the floor and between double walls

Word Origin for hypocaust

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