English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am not sure if this word has multiple meanings, but I am using it in an architectural context. Classical orders have distinctive columns with distinctive capitals. However, when I say each style also has a distinctive entablature, I am guessing many readers won't know what what the word entablature means (I didn't). So next to the word 'entablature', I would like to put in parentheses a synonym or very short phrase that defines the word 'entablature'.

Essentially, my question boils down to: What is a synonym or very-short phrase for the word 'entablature'?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Here's a simple explanation of entablature:

In Classical architecture, the entablature is the upper portion of a building, above the columns and below the roof.

Entablature usually consists of a main beam called the architrave, a wide central part, often decorated, called the frieze, and a top molding called the cornice.


share|improve this answer

There isn't really a synonym, but you can give a short list of example types rather than an alternate word (lintel, architrave, frieze, cornice, etc.) in the running text to give the reader a hint, and perhaps add a more complete definition in a footnote.

share|improve this answer
This is a seriously good idea – Thursagen Jul 2 '11 at 5:08

How about "upper façade"? That's not precise, but it conveys the right idea.

share|improve this answer

For someone who doesn't know what an entablature is, which I didn't before tonight, I think using cornice, frieze, and architrave is not going to help, although it would work for people who are familiar with architecture. Being largely ignorant of architecture myself, I'd describe it personally as an upper border or roof facing.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.