Definition of cornice in English:



  • 1An ornamental moulding round the wall of a room just below the ceiling.

    • ‘There are double-glazed, maintenance-free windows in each house and decorative ceiling cornices in the living room and hall.’
    • ‘Each has a feature fireplace surround and there are ceiling cornices in the living room and hallway.’
    • ‘With an original oak floor, this area also features a carved oak ceiling rose, pediments, cornices and architraves.’
    • ‘The original sash windows are in perfect working condition, the original wooden window panelling and doors remain and the main rooms have cornices and ceiling roses.’
    • ‘The interconnecting reception rooms to the left both have original cornices and ceiling roses as well as matching marble fireplaces with fitted gas fires, brass hoods and tiled insets.’
    1. 1.1 A horizontal moulded projection crowning a building or structure, especially the uppermost member of the entablature of an order, surmounting the frieze.
      • ‘Sometimes the sky is greeted with a white cornice over an otherwise brown building.’
      • ‘To one side lie the stately old buildings with columns and cornices that reference the school's 1845 heritage.’
      • ‘The windows are surmounted by rusticated wooden jack arches with superimposed keystones, and a heavy modillion cornice crowns the bold Georgian proportions of the facade.’
      • ‘Now a historic district, downtown boasts blocks of two- and three-story commercial buildings with elaborate cornices.’
      • ‘The flat fourth story is crowned by an emphatic cornice, above which is a tall mansard roof sheltering two more stories.’
  • 2An overhanging mass of hardened snow at the edge of a mountain precipice.

    • ‘In winter, it looks positively Alpine when the snow forms sweeping cornices.’
    • ‘In the wild there is no piste patrol to pick up the pieces, and the mountains bristle with rocks, cliffs and cornices.’
    • ‘Climbing alpine style - fast and light, with no set camps - they took on bitter winds and heavy-laden cornices of snow but summited in three and a half days.’
    • ‘Hawk was standing on top of a snow cornice near the top of the peak when the cornice broke loose from the mountain, sending Hawk churning down the slope.’
    • ‘Moments later I was kicking my way up and over the slightly overhanging cornice on to the plateau above.’


Mid 16th century: from French corniche, from Italian cornice, perhaps from Latin cornix ‘crow’ (compare with corbel), but influenced by Greek korōnis ‘coping stone’.