The name of the building is [opposite of engraved] above the entrance.

I'm looking for a word to describe characters that are raised above the surface - the opposite of engraved or sunken text

  • Then again, simply attaching letters is neither embossed nor relief. It can barely be considered extruded. But indeed, the name of the building sticks out from the background surface.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 11:11

4 Answers 4


The word you are looking for is embossed.

Carve, mould, or stamp a design on (a surface or object) so that it stands out in relief:

‘an embossed brass dish’

‘the silverware is embossed with falcons’

Regarding embossed stone, you can see the websites of two monument masons using the term here:

Embossed - Background sandblasted away leaving letter raised with polished face.

and here:

Embossed - The polished lettering is left on the face of the stone with the background removed to form the wording.

  • 2
    You don't emboss stone, and the raised letters of a house number (for example) on a plaque are not embossed, so I am not sure that this covers all types. As far as I can tell from a very short search, in stone carving they are simply called 'raised letters'. Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 7:31
  • 5
    I disagree. I have seen plenty of embossed stone lettering. As the OED definition states: "carve a design on a surface".
    – Ste
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 8:12
  • 3
    Interesting debate. My first instinct on seeing the title was that "embossed" is the opposite to "engraved". But I would have agreed with @Roaring Fish and Joe Blow that the word does not suit carved stone or concrete lettering on a building, so I find it interesting that it has been adopted by the tombstone carving companies Ste found. Maybe not unambigously correct, but as good a word as any.
    – AmeliaBR
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 22:39
  • 1
    "Embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design in paper and other ductile materials." ~ marrs.com/capabilities/processes/embossing.html and "embossing, art of producing raised patterns on the surface of metal, leather, textiles, paper, and other similar substances. Strictly speaking, the term is applicable only to raised impressions produced by means of engraved dies or plates." ~ britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/185592/embossing As stone is not ductile, and carving is not dies or plates, I still don't think stone can be embossed. Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 7:05
  • I appreciate your points and I'm delighted to have caused such debate. But the word can also mean "to ornament with raised work", which doesn't necessarily mean pressing out.
    – Ste
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 8:05

If you are talking about raised letters on stone, you would never call it embossed.

(There are various techniques for making "raised things". Molding, relief carving, vacuum forming, etc. Embossed refers to the technique for making raised things, namely, pushed through, hammered through, rubbed through.)

So, you mean the extreme bottom left image on a website advertising Stone Carving and Letter Cutting:

In general that's called relief carving or bas relief carving. Exactly as Josh mentions you really just call it "raised lettering."

Notice the sculptor's flowers on the top right - that is relief carving. So you start higher-up and carve away, ingeniously making it look like it popped up from a surface which began flat.

(I've never had a stonemason or carver do relief lettering, but when you have them do something like the flowers in that top right examples, sure, you just call it "relief carving". As opposed to like "carving in the round", a 3D sculpture, example an everyday 3D statue you see in a park.)

Notice the same craftsman calls it deep relief when subjectively you get more in to it (and go back "behind yourself"), e.g. see the flowers at the top right.


In relief may fit the context:

(Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a printing process, such as engraving, letterpress, etc, that employs raised surfaces from which ink is transferred to the paper.


This monument company uses these names:

ENGAGED LETTERING is very impressive. The polish is taken off the letters and the background is cut away leaving a deep recess as a background banner. The shadows from this style are pronounced and are well suited for family headstones.

The POLISHED-RAISED or CHISEL-CUT (also Inlaid or "Delano" named after the company that made them popular) lettering styles are not used as often as they used to be. Though common for decades in the past, the craftsmanship and time required to execute them is quite involved.

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