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cornice (kôrˈnĭs), molded or decorated projection that forms the crowning feature at the top of a building wall or other architectural element; specifically, the uppermost of the three principal members of the classic entablature, hence by extension any similar crowning and projecting element in the decorative arts. The term is also employed for any projection on a wall that is provided to throw rainwater off the face of the building. The cornice undoubtedly had its origin in the primitive eave projection: the Greek Doric and lonic cornices recall early wooden roof forms, and the Egyptian cavetto-and-fillet cornice is a derivation of the overhanging papyrus stalks that formed the eaves of primitive shelters. The cornice early lost its structural significance and became a stylized decorative element; in the Greek and Roman eras it assumed firmly standardized forms in the classical orders that were retained, with variations, through the Renaissance and later periods. As an element in the classical entablature the cornice is composed of the cymatium, or crown molding, above the corona, the projecting flat member, which casts the principal shadow; in this shadow, and supporting the corona, are a group of moldings called the bed molds, which may be elaborated with dentils. The Corinthian and Composite cornices are further embellished with modillions, or brackets, under the corona; the soffit of the Doric corona is decorated with square, flat projections called mutules, having guttae, or small knobs, hanging from their lower surfaces.
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The uppermost division of an entablature; a projecting shelf along the top of a wall supported by a series of brackets; the exterior trim at the meeting of a roof and wall, consisting of soffit, fascia and crown molding.

boxed cornice

A hollow cornice, built up of boards and moldings, resulting in a soffit under the eaves.

bracketed cornice

A deep cornice having large, widely spaced ornamental brackets supporting an overhanging eave; it is common in the Italianate style.

horizontal cornice

The level cornice of the pediment under the two inclined cornices.

modillion cornice

A cornice supported by a series of modillions, often found in Composite and Corinthian orders.

open cornice

Overhanging eaves where the rafters are exposed at the eaves and can be seen from below.

raking cornice

A cornice following the slope of a gable, pediment, or roof.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


The crowning, overhanging part of an architectural structure.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Any molded projection which crowns or finishes the part to which it is affixed.
2. The third or uppermost division of an entablature, resting on the frieze.
3. An ornamental molding, usually of wood or plaster, running round the walls of a room just below the ceiling; a crown molding; the molding forming the top member of a door or window frame.
4. The exterior trim of a structure at the meeting of the roof and wall; usually consists of bed molding, soffit, fascia, and crown molding. For special types, see architrave cornice, boxed cornice, bracketed cornice, cavetto cornice, closed cornice, eaves cornice, modillion cornice, open cornice.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Architect
a. the top projecting mouldings of an entablature
b. a continuous horizontal projecting course or moulding at the top of a wall, building, etc.
2. an overhanging ledge of snow formed by the wind on the edge of a mountain ridge, cliff, or corrie
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Fixing a reasonably plain cornice with linear lines won't cost a fortune.
This time you'll discover that the mitre-saw was right but you've accidentally inserted the cornice upside down.
Carl Culbreth's work as a sculptor creating eight foot long spines, heads and necks out of clay, primed him for work as a preservationist, where he helps reshape the cornices, eaves and facades of eight-story buildings out of Terra Cotta.
A range of fifty stock designs of cornices are available, from simple cove patterns to the prestigious Adam Collection - which will add a stylish finishing touch to any room.
Cornice is currently targeting six categories in handheld electronics--MP3 players, personal storage, cameras and imaging, gaming, portable phones, and GPS units--and each one is a growing, multi-billion-dollar industry.
The study is of twin aspect, with shuttered windows to the front, overlooking the drive, complete with window seat and wall-to-wall, full-height pine cupboards; shuttered side window set into a deep architrave with panelling beneath overlooking the garden, original deep cornice, inset lighting and picture rail.
Curtis writes of each return visit as a measure of "what point one has reached, as if re-consulting an old friend." The Soane Museum is a Wunderkammer, a labyrinthine treasure chest stuffed full of cast-plaster gargoyles and goddesses, crockets, cornices, and Corinthian capitals; trick walls that open and shut; built-in mirrors producing virtual vistas to infinity; tombs, sarcophagi--oh, and yes, a "monk's parlor" complete with human skull.
Peel back wallpaper and use a lath hammer to remove any large sections of damaged cornice.
The drawing room has wooden flooring, telephone point, TV point, picture rail, original cornice style ceiling with ceiling rose.
The traditional trefoil window arch expressed in timber is ubiquitous, along with corbelled timber dentils used as a supporting cornice. These details are normally highly decorated with carvings and paint, but also look quite fantastic in their natural timber state.
This lovely area features a mahogany and ornate, cast iron staircase, dado rail, chequered, tiled floor, and deep moulded ceiling cornice with central ceiling rose.