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 gargoyled (audio) \ 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

The gargoyles, their bony jaws in their hands, contemplating the most majestic of cities from their perch atop this 12th-century architectural wonder. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "Notre-Dame Cathedral Symbolizes the Power of Architecture to Transform Lives," 16 Apr. 2019 Massive gargoyles, shaped like the radiator caps of a Chrysler vehicle, would spread their wings at each corner of the building. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 Lois, a Florida antiques dealer, responded to the murder by becoming hard and implacable, like a stone gargoyle protecting a cathedral from evil spirits. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Enduring Appeal of Fading Pleasures," 27 Sep. 2018 My momos are gargoyles, even after an hour of practice, which kindly goes unremarked upon by Aruna and Nasrin. Grant Cornett, Vogue, "The Rise of Refugee Cuisine—a Food-World Trend to Feel Good About," 17 Aug. 2018 The Lobby, The Peninsula With its soaring classical columns, gilded plasterwork, gargoyles, and live band, the Lobby at the Peninsula sets the scene for Hong Kong’s most famous afternoon tea. Janice Leung Hayes, Condé Nast Traveler, "23 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong," 27 Feb. 2018 The building is eccentric even by Hollywood standards; one doorway doubles as the mouth of a large trompe l’oeil gargoyle. New York Times, "Rare Photographs From Inside a Hollywood Costume Archive," 6 June 2018 The couple has since added to this touching scene, upping the ante by including a glowing gargoyle, a vintage hearse with a beheading theme, a crone cradling a precociously horrifying popeyed infant. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Welcome to the Neighborhood, Jeff Koons!," 31 Oct. 2014 The 16 gargoyle guardians on the roof are five feet tall. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Cloud Atlases: What are those weird sculptures atop this Kalorama building?," 23 June 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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Statistics for gargoyle

Last Updated

14 May 2019

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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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gargoyle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gargoyle

Spanish Central: Translation of gargoyle

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

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