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(kôr`nĭs), 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 entablatureentablature
, the entire unit of horizontal members above the columns or pilasters in classical architecture—Greek, Roman or Renaissance. The height of the entablature in relation to the column supporting it varies with the three orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, but
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, 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.


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.


The crowning, overhanging part of an architectural structure.


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.


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
References in periodicals archive ?
Carson will escort your guests to the Hall Wall panelling, stone fireplace, bay window with frame panels, substantial cornicing - all classic features to make this a cosy yet impressive room for the gentlemen to retire to.
In the rear section of the room, there is another period marble fire surround with cast iron and tiled insert and tiled hearth, cornicing and ceiling rose, stripped wood effect flooring and French doors to the back garden.
FORENSIC FIND: The area of cornicing from which police extracted DNA evidence on Hamilton
New House Farm has many quality features, including elegant ceilings with moulded cornicing, panelled doors with deep architraves, small-paned, traditional windows and several fireplaces.
There is an open plan living/dining room with chimney breast recess, wooden flooring, feature fire surround with marble affect hearth, original cornicing, decorative ceiling rose, original wooden windows with wooden glazed door providing access and views to the communal gardens White units give a sleek, contemporary feel to the refitted kitchen.
The entrance hall is more than 27ft in length and this too has attractive cornicing in the front section as well as twin plasterwork arches.
QI live in a new house with a high ceiling but would like to put in cornicing.
The hallway has its original plaster archways as well as a ceiling rose, cornicing and picture rail.
The hallway features a pilaster archway, embossed cornicing, solid wooden effect flooring and under stairs storage.
Any estate agent will tell you period handmade plasterwork - cornicing, moudlings and ceiling roses - is a major selling point for any Georgian or Edwardian home.