\ ˈplin(t)th How to pronounce plinth (audio) \

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

The delicate coloration of the street in the background (Winogrand’s capacity for delicacy is a whole subject unto itself) supports the whiteness like a chromatic plinth. Mark Feeney,, "Garry Winogrand, that master of black-and-white, was a master of color, too," 20 June 2019 The master bathroom is pure drama, with a black feature wall and the shower and contemporary oval free-standing bathtub set side by side upon a white marble plinth. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "Behind the Scenes of a London Townhouse’s Modern Makeover," 15 Aug. 2018 In the room’s center is a hot stone plinth heated from the inside, with a small pipe that provides steam. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Public-Bathhouse Design Comes to Luxury Homes," 19 July 2018 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

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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Plimsoll mark






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Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for plinth

The first known use of plinth was in 1563

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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 Encyclopedia article about plinth

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