Definition of gambrel in US English:


(also gambrel roof)


  • 1A roof with two sides, each of which has a shallower slope above a steeper one.

    • ‘Between the 1760's and 1770's the gambrel roofs fell out of favor and were converted into a second story and a gable roof with or without dormers.’
    • ‘Michigan is known for its large barns built in the late 1800s, with gambrel roofs featuring lower, steeper slopes an upper, flatter ones on each side, he explains.’
    • ‘The home is two stories with a gambrel (barn-style) roof and a covered porch we enjoy year-round.’
    • ‘His five-bay building, with its glazed header Flemish bond brick facade had a gambrel roof typical of local vernacular architecture.’
    • ‘Though homes with gambrel roofs are popularly called Dutch Colonial, there is debate over the origins of the roof style.’
    • ‘If a gambrel roof home had a third floor, it was used for bedrooms and storage.’
    • ‘This barn has a gambrel roof, that is its roof has a central ridge at the top, and the upper-level area is expanded by two additional ridges, one on either side of the central ridge.’
    • ‘When you create this combination of shed roofs and gambrel roofs you get into a situation where the roofs join in a very complicated manner.’
    • ‘The brick and stone courthouse with gambrel roofs, built in 1903, has some venerable old jacaranda trees for shade.’
    • ‘This ten page plan set for three different gambrel roof barn designs: 24’ wide, 30’ wide and 38’ wide.’
    • ‘A glance upward through the ceiling area reveals the huge cross timbers, and the complex joinery of the gambrel roof system.’
    • ‘Besides its unique appearance a gambrel roof also serves to maximize the usable floor space in the attic.’
    • ‘‘I grew up in a home like this,’ she reminisced as she drove by a brick house with a gambrel rooftop.’
    • ‘Only in later periods, when Queen Anne was superseded by Colonial Revival and Colonial Imitation, did gambrel roofs become synonymous with Dutch architecture.’
    • ‘Please help us celebrate the grace of timber frames, the tactile shapeliness of hand-hewn logs, and the serene experience of soft beams of light filtering through the high ceiling of a gambrel loft.’
    • ‘For example, even the adoption of a new gambrel roof system with stud walls and a truss roof did not wholly eliminate the old heavy timber mortise-and-tenon construction system.’
    • ‘This one has a gambrel roof, wide shed roof dormers, and a shed roof over the porch.’
    • ‘These notations offer architectural information otherwise unavailable about these early county buildings: many were 1 1/2 stories, with gambrel roofs and modest dimensions.’
    • ‘My husband and I are building a workshop and we want a gambrel roof to house various woodworking and craft projects.’
    1. 1.1British A hip roof with a small gable forming the upper part of each end.
      • ‘Others have steep gambrel roofs or hipped roofs, with or without porches.’
      • ‘This mostly stone two-story house has a Dutch gambrel hipped roof.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘bent piece of wood or iron to hang carcasses on’): from Old Northern French gamberel, from gambier ‘forked stick’, from gambe ‘leg’. The sense ‘hipped roof’ (mid 19th century) is based on an earlier meaning ‘joint in the upper part of a horse's hind leg’, the shape of which the roof resembles.