plinth

noun
\ 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 plinth was installed in Grantham in February, and the statue was meant to join it in May, Mr. Saxton said, but the coronavirus pandemic scuppered those plans. Alex Marshall, New York Times, "Is Margaret Thatcher’s Hometown Ready to Put Her on a Pedestal?," 23 Nov. 2020 Aware of that status, Northam’s office still plans to take down the metal statue — though the fate of its stone plinth is an open question. Washington Post, "Northam proposes major effort to reimagine public space around Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond," 11 Dec. 2020 Like that wonder of the ancient world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Empire State rises as a plinth to support a beacon for all to see. James Panero, WSJ, "An Iconic Beacon Shines Anew," 11 Dec. 2020 Next year, that plinth is to become the base of a stern-looking, larger-than-life bronze monument to Grantham’s most famous daughter: Margaret Thatcher. Alex Marshall, New York Times, "Is Margaret Thatcher’s Hometown Ready to Put Her on a Pedestal?," 23 Nov. 2020 Anadol imagines an installation with a 20-foot sphere atop a smaller, cylindrical plinth, animating the virus’s growth over time with LED lights. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "How to Remember," 24 Nov. 2020 But last week, the plinth seemed far from a fortress. Alex Marshall, New York Times, "Is Margaret Thatcher’s Hometown Ready to Put Her on a Pedestal?," 23 Nov. 2020 Two days after Colston fell, a crane in London’s Docklands hoisted the effigy of another slave trader off its plinth, as Mayor Sadiq Khan launched a review of all public landmarks. Maya Jasanoff, The New Yorker, "Misremembering the British Empire," 26 Oct. 2020 Most prominently, curators relocated a bust of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) from a plinth to a smaller display case accompanied by text discussing the naturalist’s connections to the slave trade. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "British Museum Moves Bust of Founder, Who Profited From Enslavement," 28 Aug. 2020

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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Last Updated

31 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plinth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plinth. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on plinth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plinth

Britannica English: Translation of plinth for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about plinth

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