One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building, typically a church tower.
steeple, belfryView synonyms
- ‘Initially in Norman style, it developed into a great Gothic cathedral with a towering spire, the largest church in England and third largest in Europe.’
- ‘Gothic cathedrals are characterised by large towers and spires.’
- ‘Much of the repair work centres on the spire of the church where water has been leaking into tower and rotting the foundations.’
- ‘A palace had spires and towers; this was one solid structure, a gigantic rectangle imposed on the landscape.’
- ‘Ornate buildings, gracious parks, spires and steeples which jab like fingers into the sky - all these vie with each other in the downtown area.’
- ‘I was a massive stone structure with many great spires and turrets.’
- ‘Towers, turrets, soaring church spires - the graceful architecture in Moscow and St. Petersburg is filmed in minute detail.’
- ‘The slender minaret of a mosque and the spires of churches rise in sharp relief over the flat roofs of the homes.’
- ‘Former as well as current places of worship with towers, spires, minarets or domes are also helpful navigational aids.’
- ‘Most of the infrastructure is completed, including the framework for the spire on the abbey tower.’
- ‘We could see a proliferation of white towers, minaret answering church spire.’
- ‘The tall buildings stretched high into the night sky, the top spires of the churches and court houses surrounded in a wreath of smoke from the fires that burned in pot bellied stoves far below.’
- ‘He enjoyed a reputation for building tall elegant masonry structures such as church towers and spires.’
- ‘New light has been shed on the cathedral spire and tower which, at 404 ft is the tallest masonry structure in Britain, by tree ring dating.’
- ‘It runs along something of a ridge so we could see for miles to villages betrayed by church towers and spires.’
- ‘The architecture attested to its ancient heritage, with massive castle-like structures adorned with spires and turrets on nearly every building.’
- ‘St Peter's church is prominently situated in the town of Drogheda, Co Louth and has a distinctive clock tower and spire.’
- ‘One of the best shots in the film is of a church spire which pans up to reveal the minaret of the mosque just behind.’
- ‘It's a striking building with turrets and spires.’
- ‘Conical spires on top support pinnacles that enabled the towers to obtain the coveted height record.’
- 1.1 The continuation of a tree trunk above the point where branching begins, especially in a tree of a tapering form.
- ‘After clipping another bolt, I looked out to see nothing but blue sky with a few light, wispy clouds hovering way above the spires of Queen Creek Canyon.’
- ‘The spires of the background forest continue this use of repetition.’
- ‘How lovely and strange the gangly spires of trees against a thickening sky as you drive from the library humming off-key?’
- 1.2 A long tapering object.‘spires of delphiniums’
- ‘For the piece de résistance, set all within a naturalized sea of camassia bulbs with their tall greenish spires and soft blue florets that bloom for weeks on end in late spring.’
- ‘The rest of the crater forms a rim of jagged peaks and spires, which give it a dinosaur skeleton-like profile.’
- ‘I prefer the restrained vista-framing, avenue-forming, gentle shapes of cylinders, spires and cones.’
- ‘Connected to the tips of each spire was a crescent moon.’
- ‘Now there were sharp ravines and barren gray slopes and narrow red spires looming above a clay basin that had, for 600 millennia, been eroded by rivers and wind.’
- ‘The trees were skeletal spires of hardened white ash, and the ground was bare of greenery, instead coated with an oily black film.’
- ‘The spires behind the figure collapsed, as two spherical domes rose to the surface.’
- ‘Three marines, held their ground, and fired plasma round after plasma round at the spires above them.’
- ‘These herbaceous biennials produce tall spires clustered with tiny flowers, each of which is surrounded by its own emerald bell.’
- ‘Jagged spires of rock rise high above the boiling surf, peaking ultimately in tree-covered summits.’
- ‘The Towers themselves appear to have been built from east to west, with each successive spire rising taller and showing greater economy of form and construction methodology.’
- ‘Is it simply the love of adventure that beckons them towards these pristine ice clad peaks and spires, at times crossing the barren icy wastelands to reach the zenith of tranquility and peace the mountains offer?’
- ‘If these plants have spikes and spires, they also add vertical movement, drama and an airy lightness to the garden.’
- ‘They include a white or orchre-painted cone surmounted by a tapering spire and standing on a square pedestal.’
- ‘By traipsing through them, we can map out the route to the golden spires and around the crocodile pits of this emerging sub-genre.’
- ‘It looked like an abstract statue made from brown stone, roughly cylindrical, with small spires jutting out from the top, seemingly placed at random.’
- ‘Seres started to forge a chant and the flower was concealed within a spire of red light.’
- ‘Our guides lead us in yoga as dawn light dances on the redrock spires that form the backdrop of our camp.’
- ‘The great tree is an ancient spire of dead wood, made of lignin and cellulose by the ancestors of the thin layer of living cells that go to constitute its bark.’
- ‘To assure a robust flower spire, feed plants in late winter or early spring with a balanced dry fertilizer or a top dressing of well-rotted manure or compost.’
Old English spīr ‘tall slender stem of a plant’; related to German Spier ‘tip of a blade of grass’.
The upper tapering part of the spiral shell of a gastropod mollusc, comprising all but the whorl containing the body.
- ‘The animal crawled with the spire of the shell facing backwards, unlike pre-torted Bellerophontids.’
- ‘When viewed from above, the shells appear to represent small piles of pebbles, with the smallest ones on the upper spire and the largest ones on the body whorl.’
- ‘The morphology of the upper spire of the Jamaican species is not known.’
- ‘Inspection of the literature reveals that a number of fossil species of cerithiform gastropods have a high-pyramidal spire like that of Alamirifica.’
- ‘However, the upper spire whorls of P. calafia are shorter than the corresponding ones on P. acuminata.’
Mid 16th century (in the general sense ‘a spiral’): from French, or via Latin from Greek speira ‘a coil’.
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