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 Here, red is the standout shade, reminiscent of a vintage train carriage with a sweeping red sofa wrapping the room, red walls, and a deep-red ceiling with gold cornice details. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 28 Feb. 2022 The living room features a Greek pattern etched into the cornice that runs to the elliptical bay in the center of the room. Eric Piasecki, Town & Country, 3 Feb. 2022 The angle of my bridge and the curvature of the snout itself create a steep slope to a cornice—perfect for sending poorly fit coverings off the edge. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, 11 Dec. 2020 But at this point, the space has been studied within an inch of its life, and no formal maintenance or even basic crack-monitoring program is in place, notwithstanding the fissures that run through the ceiling’s curved cornice. New York Times, 21 May 2021 The lime-green paint that accents the zigzagging cornice remains, faded but intact. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Nov. 2021 Another tower, a mansard roof and a stone cornice were also later taken off. Madison Iszler, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Nov. 2021 The Granacki study described the 1910 YMCA as a historic brick structure with wood double-hung windows, a projecting metal cornice just below simple brick parapet wall and decorative brick diaper panels between third-story windows. Suzanne Baker,, 11 Aug. 2021 But even that notorious neighborhood once had a prime, when each modest structure had its own character, its own purpose and the owner's name on the cornice. James Lileks, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To match the profile and ornamentation of the lost cornice, which features rosettes alternating with concave brackets, Allen photographed the sister cornice at 31 Greene. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 24 Apr. 2020 Similarly he had missing sections of hand carved cornicing restored. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, 2 May 2018 Similarly he had missing sections of hand carved cornicing restored. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, 2 May 2018 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of cornice was in 1563

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cornice brake

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Last Updated

29 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cornice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cornice


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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cornice

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


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