cor·​nice | \ ˈkȯr-nəs How to pronounce cornice (audio) , -nish\

Definition of cornice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the molded and projecting horizontal member that crowns an architectural composition — see column illustration
b : a top course that crowns a wall
2 : a decorative band of metal or wood used to conceal curtain fixtures
3 : an overhanging mass of windblown snow or ice usually on a ridge


corniced; cornicing

Definition of cornice (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to furnish or crown with a cornice

Illustration of cornice

Illustration of cornice


c cornice 1a

In the meaning defined above

Examples of cornice in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The architects restored the exterior of the building, transforming its dilapidated white siding into something closer to the building’s original state with a mansard roof, cornices, and trim. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "1880s Victorian renovated into sustainable emergency shelter for families," 23 July 2018 Two Poma lifts powered by a biodiesel generator bring skiers to the Twin Lakes Headwall for 600 acres of above-tree-line bowl skiing, including cornices to huck and rails to slide. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "How to Ski All Summer Long," 5 July 2018 State street, the main thoroughfare, is a ghastly avenue of ruins, parts of its most stately buildings being tumbled down, and cornices, walls and fronts of practically all principal structures shattered down., "June 30, 1925: Quake rocks Santa Barbara," 30 June 2018 Because the block was built by a single developer, the houses were originally identical — the same height, the same cornice details. Inga Saffron,, "When trading up isn't an option, Philadelphia rowhouse owners build up | Inga Saffron," 21 June 2018 The architect and professor David Erdman has suggested fitting in more people in those same buildings by going even higher, adding cornices of from 5 to 25 stories atop the existing structures, which are already often about 40 stories tall already. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Live in a Drainpipe? Five Extreme Ideas to Solve Hong Kong’s Housing Crisis," 26 Mar. 2018 Almost all have been retrofitted by bracing parapets around the building’s exterior, anchoring walls to the roof, and removing or stabilizing exterior features such as stairways, balconies, marquees and cornices. John Wilkens,, "San Diego's vulnerable buildings," 13 May 2018 Decorative cornices and parapets on the exteriors shake loose. John Wilkens,, "Back story: Shoring up old masonry buildings for earthquakes," 13 May 2018 Outside there was decorative bargeboard over windows and doors, decorative cornice and corbel trim. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A major renovation improved 1872 Walker's Point home but kept the Gothic Revival charm," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Similarly he had missing sections of hand carved cornicing restored. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "A Renovated Riad Fit for a Sultan," 2 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cornice.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cornice


1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1744, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cornice


earlier cornish, borrowed from Middle French corniche, borrowed from Italian cornice "cornice on a column," earlier, "ledge projecting from a rock wall," perhaps going back to Latin cornīc-, cornīx "crow" (assuming a figurative sense "projection, something jutting out" in Vulgar Latin), derivative (with -īc-, -ix, particularizing suffix), from a base *kor-n-, perhaps from the oblique of an n-stem *kor-ōn seen in Greek korṓnē "crow"; the base *kor- "corvid," with different suffixation, seen also in Umbrian curnaco "crow," Greek korak-, kórax "raven," Latin corvus "raven," and, if going back to Indo-European *ḱor-, Russian soróka "magpie," Polish sroka, Serbian & Croatian svrȁka (with secondary -v-), Lithuanian šárka (from Balto-Slavic *ḱor-Hk-), Sanskrit śāri- "kind of bird"

Note: For an association between something projecting and a corvid cf. the etymology of corbel entry 1. Italian cornice has also been seen as an outcome of Greek korōnid-, korōnís "crook-beaked, curved, curved pen stroke, copestone (in the lexicographer Hesychius)," though phonologically this is implausible. The base *kor-/*ḱor- is ultimately onomatopoeic, perhaps an expansion of *kr-, the initial of other independently derived Indo-European words for corvid birds (cf. crow entry 1, raven entry 1).


derivative of cornice entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cornice

Statistics for cornice

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cornice

The first known use of cornice was in 1563

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cornice



English Language Learners Definition of cornice

: the decorative top edge of a building or column
: a decorative strip of wood or some other material used at the top of the walls in a room


cor·​nice | \ ˈkȯr-nəs How to pronounce cornice (audio) \

Kids Definition of cornice

1 : an ornamental piece that forms the top edge of the front of a building or pillar
2 : an ornamental molding placed where the walls meet the ceiling of a room

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cornice

Spanish Central: Translation of cornice

Nglish: Translation of cornice for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cornice

Comments on cornice

What made you want to look up cornice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!