A Journey Around the House in 8 Words

The things in and on your house that, as it turns out, have names.
around the house words gable

A gable is the vertical triangular end or wall supporting a pitched roof. The noun is used in the titles of a couple of well-known books. Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of a “a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass” in The House of the Seven Gables (1851). And Anne of Green Gables (1908) by Lucy Maud Montgomery describes the color of the house on the farm where orphan Anne Shirley is sent to live.

around the house words balustrade

A balustrade is a railing that lies atop curved upright supports called balusters. It is most often found on a porch or balcony. The name baluster derives from words meaning “wild pomegranate flower,” in reference to its shape.

around the house words spandrel

A spandrel is the triangular-shaped space that is formed between an arch and the corners of the frame that contain the arch. It often contains a carving or other ornamentation.

around the house words jalousie

A jalousie could be one of two things: a window blind with a horizontal slats that admit light and air while keeping out rain or direct sunlight, or a window itself made of glass louvers that can be adjusted to let in air.

The name derives from the French for “jealousy,” but it’s not clear who’s supposed to be jealous of whom—the person peering outside at their neighbor, or those outside at whatever activity is being concealed.

around the house words inglenook

An inglenook is the carved-out area next to a fireplace hearth, often with a bench built into it. It’s a compound word—the first part, ingle, derives from Scottish Gaelic aingeal and refers to a fireplace or the fire that burns inside one.

around the house words bulkhead

Bulkhead has a number of meanings, but you might know it as the slanted structure with a door that opens to stairs leading to a cellar, usually from the outside. The noun bulk is an older term for a structure projecting from a building.

around the house words cornice

A cornice refers to the projecting part at the top of something, such as a column or door frame. Similarly, it can refer to the part of the roof that overhangs and protects what is below it (such as a window) from precipitation.

around the house words dormer

A dormer is a room or structure with a window that sticks out from a sloping roof. The word shares the same root as dormitory (the Latin dormitorium, from dormire, meaning “to sleep”). In many homes, the dormer houses an upper-floor bedroom.

The window inside the dormer can itself be called a dormer, but is also known as a lucarne.