gar·​goyle | \ ˈgär-ˌgȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce gargoyle (audio) \

Definition of gargoyle

1a : a spout in the form of a grotesque human or animal figure projecting from a roof gutter to throw rainwater clear of a building
b : a grotesquely carved figure
2 : a person with an ugly face

Illustration of gargoyle

Illustration of gargoyle

gargoyle 1a

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Other Words from gargoyle

gargoyled \ ˈgär-​ˌgȯi(-​ə)ld How to pronounce gargoyle (audio) \ adjective

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In the 12th century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux reportedly complained about the new sculptures in the cloisters where he lived. "Surely," he is quoted as saying, "if we do not blush for such absurdities we should at least regret what we have spent on them." St. Bernard was apparently provoked by the grotesque figures designed to drain rainwater from buildings. By the 13th century, those figures were being called "gargoyles," a name that came to Middle English from the Old French gargoule. The stone beasts may have earned that name because of the water that gargled out of their throats and mouths.

Examples of gargoyle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Spiderwebs and gargoyle-like figures add to the creepiness. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 19 Oct. 2021 Over the years, Koch saved hundreds of cases of materials documenting Stone’s history, from its initial building lease to its first shipping boxes, to fan letters to multiple versions of its gargoyle logo and tap handle designs. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Sep. 2021 The primary bathroom, converted from a bedroom, features green ceramic tiles kiln-fired on site, a fireplace, a showerhead strategically placed in a gargoyle’s mouth and a urinal. cleveland, 13 Aug. 2021 Indeed, her relationship with Disney animation continued until the end of her life, considering her final role was as the voice of gargoyle Laverne in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 20 May 2021 Which royal gargoyle brought up concerns with Harry over the skin color of his unborn child? Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2021 Stone gargoyle or bas-relief depictions are preserved on about twenty churches today, including Cologne Cathedral and the Wittenberg Stadtkirche, where Martin Luther, himself an infamous anti-Semite, is said to have posted his ninety-five theses. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's Magazine, 18 Aug. 2020 The club was best known for a 7-foot, 1,200-pound, anatomically correct clay gargoyle—named Harold—that was once perched in the parking lot. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, 12 Aug. 2020 Every 5-10 minutes, the alarmingly realistic animatronic gargoyle snaps to life. Joshua Pease, Popular Mechanics, 1 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gargoyle.' 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 gargoyle

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gargoyle

Middle English gargule, gargoyl, from Old French gargoule

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The first known use of gargoyle was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gargoyle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for gargoyle



English Language Learners Definition of gargoyle

: a strange or ugly human or animal figure that sticks out from the roof of a building (such as a church)


gar·​goyle | \ ˈgär-ˌgȯil How to pronounce gargoyle (audio) \

Kids Definition of gargoyle

: a strange or frightening human or animal figure that sticks out from the roof of a building and often serves as a waterspout

More from Merriam-Webster on gargoyle

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


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