1
a
: 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 Manhattan Beach police are asking for the public’s help in locating the nearly year-old plaque from Bruce’s Beach that was stolen this week — stripped from its large plinth. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 The Sapphire is well-appointed beyond its streaming skills, including the same Ortofon 2M Blue stylus cartridge found in some of our favorite turntables, a low-resonance MDF plinth, and a carbon-fiber tonearm. Condé Nast, WIRED, 9 Jan. 2024 In place of anything as dull as a white plinth to display the objects, they’re positioned on reclaimed packing crates, in a nod to the customs house they’re housed in; once upon a time, its rooms would have held Scottish goods ready to be shipped around the world from the nearby port. Liam Hess, Vogue, 16 Nov. 2023 Meanwhile, in the southwest corner of the cemetery, a solid square plinth, a few feet to one side and higher than my head, dwarfs the neighboring headstones. Colin Dickey, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 July 2023 Priyanka Chopra Jonas & Nick Jonas on Their Jeweled Met Gala Looks Warda (2023), another bronze piece, sits on a plinth in the gallery’s small side room. Grace Edquist, Vogue, 10 Nov. 2023 Four Tetris block-like modular wood plinths are available in white oak, mahogany or walnut; they can be arranged into various configurations to display objects or help break up a space. John Wogan Laura Bannister Tariro Mzezewa Elissa Suh Dana Covit Jameson Montgomery, New York Times, 12 Oct. 2023 The sculptural ceiling stretches across the sales floor and a trio of geometric plinths, two that display and store D.S. & Durga merchandise and another that serves as a formal point of sale. Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 8 Sep. 2023 One plinth used to hold a statue of Lenin, typical for any Ukrainian city: tall, gray, ugly, constantly soiled by pigeons that left their white traces. Haiane Avakian, The Atlantic, 27 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'plinth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin plinthus, from Greek plinthos

First Known Use

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of plinth was in 1563

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Cite this Entry

“Plinth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plinth. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

plinth

noun
1
: the lowest part of the base of an architectural column
2
: a block used as a base (as for a vase)

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