plinth

noun
\ˈplin(t)th \

Definition of plinth 

1a : the lowest member of a base : subbase

b : a block upon which the moldings of an architrave or trim are stopped at the bottom

2 : a usually square block serving as a base broadly : any of various bases or lower parts

3 : a course of stones forming a continuous foundation or base course

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Plinth and Architecture

"These ivy-clad arcades — / These mouldering plinths ... are they all — / All of the famed, and the colossal left…?" In these lines from "The Coliseum," Edgar Allan Poe alludes to a practical feature of classical architecture. The plinth serves the important purpose of raising the base of the column it supports above the ground, thus protecting it from dampness and mold. The humble plinth is usually a mere thick block. It's humbly named, too, for the Greek word plinthos means simply "tile" or "brick." English writers have used plinth, a shortened version of the Latin form plinthus, since the mid-16th century. The word's meaning was later extended to bases for statues, vases, or busts.

Examples of plinth in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In the 19th century, three of the plinths were crowned with statues of kings and military leaders, but the fourth was not filled. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Ancient Statue Destroyed by ISIS Resurrected in London—With a Twist," 6 Apr. 2018 The rumbustious suffragettes are relegated to small etchings on the new statue’s plinth, a marginalisation that hints at lingering unease with their methods. The Economist, "What modern campaigners can learn from the fight for women’s suffrage," 19 Apr. 2018 In the late 1990s, the British government decided to feature contemporary art installations on the vacant plinth. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Ancient Statue Destroyed by ISIS Resurrected in London—With a Twist," 6 Apr. 2018 On a plinth, its smell safely neutralized behind acrylic and glass, the fatberg begins to resemble an accidental Whiteread — short on poetry, perhaps, but equally powerful. Nicola Twilley, New York Times, "Letter of Recommendation: Fatbergs," 27 Mar. 2018 In a park in Budapest, Hungary, a grand stairway leads up to a kind of altar, atop which is a brick plinth. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Historic wrongs on a pedestal: Ugly past doesn’t vanish when the artwork does," 27 Feb. 2018 Three of her life-size headless figures on plinths, sited on smaller lawns around the park, will play off just such a woman in repose. Hilarie M. Sheets, New York Times, "Coming to Madison Square Park: Drippy Abstractions and Headless Figures," 8 Feb. 2018 The dresses are arranged on mannequins that stand on color-coordinating hexagonal plinths. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "“Mary, Queen of Prints,” a Mary Katrantzou Exhibition, Opens at the Dallas Contemporary," 16 Jan. 2018 Whether at City Park, Jefferson Davis Boulevard or Lee Circle, the stone plinths that once housed monuments of Confederate icons now lift up only empty sky. Pelican Bomb, NOLA.com, "A new kind of monument rises in New Orleans: Prospect.4 works," 8 Jan. 2018

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

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for plinth

Latin plinthus, from Greek plinthos

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Dictionary Entries near plinth

plimsoll

Plimsoll mark

plink

plinth

plinthiform

Pliny

Pliocene

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The first known use of plinth was in 1563

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More Definitions for plinth

plinth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of plinth

: a block of stone or wood that is used as the base for a pillar, statue, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on plinth

Britannica English: Translation of plinth for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about plinth

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