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 Snow cornices are especially prone to breaking during avalanches. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "Eight climbers died in the Himalayas. This GoPro footage shows the last video of them still alive.," 9 July 2019 Its exterior renovation included the replacement of 2,483 historically accurate windows and restoration of the decorative cornice complete with caryatid statues. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Bedrock hires architect for Book restoration, hosts public tour Saturday," 4 Sep. 2019 Installing a cornice box at the ceiling level can help prevent light from escaping upward from the windows and reflecting off the ceiling. Eustacia Huen, Twin Cities, "Can’t sleep? You probably need to make these changes.," 9 Aug. 2019 Whatever its design and aesthetic merits, that building clearly fails to meet city design guidelines that call for traditional brick, mortar and stone materials and such design features as rooftop cornices and caps. Graydon Megan,, "Lennar adds brick facade, receives $1.3 million in benefits for Elmhurst apartment building," 6 Aug. 2019 The Warrensville Heights Branch, for example, has a big, glassy rectangular-shaped reading room topped by a shiny metal cornice that juts into the sky. Steven Litt,, "New Cuyahoga County libraries are spirited variations on themes of service, light, sense of place – Steven Litt," 21 July 2019 Ardent Construction superintendent Calvin Neill says all the outside brick is being reformed, and a damaged exterior cornice will be reconstructed using fiberglass. USA TODAY, "Glowing rock fight, Statehouse stash, hometown hero: News from around our 50 states," 15 July 2019 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 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 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.

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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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Time Traveler for cornice

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The first known use of cornice was in 1563

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cornice.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for cornice


How to pronounce cornice (audio)

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

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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).


to express in a more acceptable way

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