span·​drel | \ ˈspan-drəl How to pronounce spandrel (audio) \
variants: or less commonly spandril

Definition of spandrel

1 : the sometimes ornamented space between the right or left exterior curve of an arch and an enclosing right angle
2 : 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spandrel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of spandrel

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spandrel

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

Learn More About spandrel

Time Traveler for spandrel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near spandrel

span dog


spandrel beam

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spandrel

Cite this Entry

“Spandrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on spandrel Encyclopedia article about spandrel


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!