Definition of hypocaust in US English:



  • A hollow space under the floor of an ancient Roman building, into which hot air was sent for heating a room or bath.

    • ‘The concrete columns, imported from Holland, also house channels for the building's heating and ventilation system, which is based on the Roman hypocaust system.’
    • ‘In other respects, however, the building was relatively modest, being timber-framed, single-storey, and without a hypocaust.’
    • ‘Without hypocaust, mosaics or wall plaster, the stone building seems to have been a relatively low-status dwelling.’
    • ‘This is the last of the pilae stacks - but where's the hypocaust floor?’
    • ‘Other thermal control elements are the galleries' hypocaust floors which are like raised office plates over a concrete slab.’
    • ‘Some have hypocausts of timber; others, without hypocausts, must have been heated with braziers within the rooms.’
    • ‘The hot air flowing from furnaces in the cellar through the vents of the hypocaust went far to drive off the chill.’
    • ‘Following St Johns Street opposite Newgate Street are public gardens containing columns, a reconstructed hypocaust and various building fragments.’
    • ‘Houses were also centrally heated by what was known as a hypocaust.’
    • ‘Being so thick, the walls can incorporate heating pipes, and hypocausts feature in at least two of his projects.’
    • ‘The Korean heated floor extends this stove to operate on a whole room, like a Roman hypocaust.’
    • ‘This was done by using a furnace and the hypocaust system carried the heat around the complex.’
    • ‘If his master lived in a cold climate, the first job of the day for a day would be to fire up the hypocaust.’
    • ‘Elsewhere in the Vale of York, a villa was represented by hypocaust remains, with evidence of jet-working as well as iron slag.’
    • ‘Other mosaics, fountains and hypocausts came to light, and room after room as the palatial villa was uncovered.’
    • ‘The larger villas were equipped with hypocausts, mosaics, painted walls and ceilings, but they remained the centres of agricultural estates.’


From Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston ‘place heated from below’, from hupo ‘under’ + kau- (base of kaiein ‘to burn’).