gar·goyle | \ ˈgär-ˌgȯi(-ə)l \

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 \ adjective

Did You Know?

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

After a few teasing intro shots, including the gargoyle dancer in the Cour Napoleon and a brief glimpse of Delacroix’s Apollo Slays Python, music’s most famous couple appear in a slow tracking reveal in front of the world’s most enigmatic smile. Peter Mikelbank,, "Inside Beyoncé and JAY-Z's 'Apes—': A Guide to All the Art in the Epic Music Video," 20 June 2018 In news that will surely turn the stoniest of gargoyles into a puddle of mush, everyone's true soulmate Idris Elba will swing into the role of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix., "Bae of All Baes Idris Elba To Play The Hunchback Of Notre Dame," 24 May 2018 Homan puts his own flair on sculptural robots, fantastic creatures such as gargoyles and dragons or animals such as whales or horses. Laura Latzko, azcentral, "Tempe Festival of the Arts brings music, food, fun to Mill Avenue," 19 Mar. 2018 Every feature is visible, from the narrative reliefs above the main doors to the gargoyles and spires high above, to the color and textures of the stone. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Viewing Europe’s Houses of Worship in Wild Detail," 4 Apr. 2018 Farley said, recalling the gargoyle figurines at the two-story residence and the cast-iron doors. Johnny Diaz,, "MTV's 'Jersey Shore: Family Vacation' set to debut with a more adult cast in Miami," 2 Apr. 2018 The whack-wacking flap of the pigeon’s fat wings has barely done disappearing down the city canyon when the glossy-beaked hawk leaps atop a rain spout gargoyleand looks down at me. Bryce Milligan, San Antonio Express-News, "Express-News Poetry," 8 Mar. 2018 The headquarters are adorned with exotic artwork, including gothic gargoyles on the exterior. Steve Jagler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jagler: Salzmann is the 'Pied Piper’ who is driving Acuity’s growth," 23 Feb. 2018 To be immersed in a simulated, but fairly persuasive 360-degree representation of a Manhattan that's been overrun by animated gargoyles and ghosts hell-bent on mischief and destruction, participants have to put on clunky headsets. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Who you gonna call (in VR)? Ghostbusters!," 23 Jan. 2018

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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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 \

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

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