span·​drel ˈspan-drəl How to pronounce spandrel (audio)
variants or less commonly spandril
: the sometimes ornamented space between the right or left exterior curve of an arch and an enclosing right angle
: the triangular space beneath the string of a stair

Illustration of spandrel

Illustration of spandrel
  • S spandrel 1

Examples of spandrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After Friday’s initial gusty winds subsided, firefighters got a better handle on the blaze, which at one point threatened the iconic open-spandrel Bixby Canyon Bridge. Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2022 In a sense, the spandrel is leftover space, a byproduct of building with arches. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Dec. 2021 Also concrete, also with an open-spandrel design, 280 feet high, built in 1932. Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2021 The next comeback line to myself was that, after hundreds of millions of years of evolution, our immune system—second in complexity only to the brain—could not have been some biological spandrel, a useless byproduct of the natural selection process. Gary Stix, Scientific American, 3 Nov. 2020 Everything about Lever House feels open, light, exuberant, with those colorful spandrels of blue-green glass and thin stainless fittings. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020 The detailing, the flatness of the spandrels, the geometry of the vertical mullions in relation to the horizontal paneling. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020 The blueprints showed that these rooftop decorations, known as antefixes, were in fact baseballs, ornaments that echoed the baseball-adorned terra-cotta spandrels above the pilasters. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2020 The span that went down was the 1905 Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction (MLH&T) spandrel-arch bridge over the Root River, near 98th Street and Layton Avenue. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 Jan. 2018 See More

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

Word History


Middle English spandrell, from Anglo-French spaunder, from espandre to spread out — more at spawn

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spandrel was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near spandrel

Cite this Entry

“Spandrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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