Architectural Terms: Some Basic Definitions

abacus - the uppermost member of a capital. Plain in the Doric order, molded in the Ionic order.

architrave - a lintel in stone or beam of timber carried from the top of one column or pier to another; the lowest member of the entablature.

base - the lowest member of a column; the Doric column has no base.

capital - the topmost member of a column and the most distinctive member of the order.

cella - the enclosed chamber or sanctuary of a temple; also known by the Greek term naos.

cornice - the upper member of the entablature.

Doric - the order evolved in the Dorian and western regions of Greece.

echinus - the convex molding supporting the abacus of a Doric capital.

entablature - the superstructure carried by columns; usually divided into 3 parts: architrave (the supporting member resting on the columns), frieze (the decorative portion), cornice (crowning and projecting member).

flutes - the vertical channels in the shafts of columns.

frieze - the middle member of the entablature, usually decorated with sculpture (continuous sculpture in the Ionic order; sculptured metopes separated by triglyphs in the Doric order).

Ionic - the order evolved in the Ionian and eastern Greek world.

metope - the sunken pictorial panels between triglyphs in the Doric order.

opisthodomos - the recessed porch in the rear of a Greek temple order

pediment - 'the gable': the recessed area within the angle formed by the meeting of the cornices at the roof; usually filled with sculpture.

peripteral - a temple whose cella is surrounded by a covered colonnade.

pronaos - the porch in front of the naos or cella.

raking cornice - upper frame of the pediment, below the roof line.

shaft - the main body of a column of pier between base and capital.

stylobate - the top step of a temple, forming the platform for the columns.

triglyph - a raised rectangular divider beteen the metopes, marked with 3 vertical channels.

volute - the spiral scroll of the Ionic capital.