The Doric Column Page

Illustrated Glossary
of Classical Architecture

Illustrations from
The American Vignola
by Robert W. Ware
(Fourth Edition, 1905)
Abacus In the Doric Order, the abacus is a square slab that sits on top of the column's capital and supports the architrave or arch. The function of an abacus is to broaden the support provided by the column. Abacus - igoca
Arcade A series of columns or piers spanned by arches. Arcade - igoca
Arch A rounded element that spans an opening is called an arch. A basic element of construction, arches apear in all types of achitecture. Arches can be decorative or structural. Early civilizations building arches include the Mesopotamians (as early as the 2nd millenium BCE) the Egyptians and the Greeks. Roman architecture adopted the arch from the Estuscans and used it extensively in building, bridges and their famous aqueducts.  
Architrave The architrave is the lowest element of the entablature, and rests on top columns. Architrave - igoca
Astragal A small convex moulding. Astragal - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Attic Base A common base used for columns in classical architecture, the Attic base is made up of an upper and lower torus, separated by a scotia with fillets.  
Base In architecture a base is the lowest part or lowest main division of a structure. For columns, the base is the lowest portion of three parts, from top to bottom: the base, the shaft and the captical. Typically, Egyptian columns and Greek Doric columns have no base and are placed directly on the floor. Ionic columns may have an elaborate base built up of groups of mouldings and fillets. Base - glossary image
Bead A convex moulding, usually semi-circular. There are a variety of different types of beads. Examples include: angle bead, nosing bead, double bead and so forth.  
Beak Moulding Moulding shaped into a beak-like form. Moulding, beak moulding - igoca
Beam A structural member that caries a load. Beams are usually placed horizontally and care a vertical load where the weight is transferred to walls, girders or columns.  
Bed-mould The moulding that appears under the projecting cornice. It is considered part of the cornice. Bed-mould - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Bell In reference to columns, the bell is a bell-shaped part of the capital between the neck moulding and the abacus. It is common to columns in the Corinthinian order where it is decorative with acanthus leaves. Bell - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Cap In architecture, a cap is the top element in a division or structure. Cap - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Capital The uppermost elements of a column. In classical architecture capitals are one of the most distinctive elements defining the different orders.  
Column A vertical support element. In classical architecture, columns are visually distinctive elements that help define the order.  
Composite Order

One of the five orders of classical architecture developed by the Romans. As the name implies, the Composite order combines elements from the Corinthian and Ionic orders.

More about Composite columns and the Composite order

Composite Order - igoca
Concave A curved surface like the interior of a circle.  
Congé A concave moulding. Conge - igoca
Convex A round surface curved outward.  
Corinthian Order

One of the five orders of classical architecture. Typically, Corinthian columns are slender and fluted. Their capitals are bell-shaped and ornately decorated with acanthus leaves.

More about Corinthian columns and the Corinthian order

Corinthian Order - igoca
Cornice The top element of the entablature including the following elements: the cyma, the corona and the bed-moulding.  
Corona A component of the cornice that has a vertical face and horizontal soffit. Corona - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Cyma A moulding with a double curvature is called a cyma or sometimes, a wave moulding. Used as the uppermost element in a cornice.  
Cyma Recta A cyma moulding having an upper concave curve and a lower convex curve Cyma Recta - igoca
Cyma Reversa A cyma moulding having an upper convex curve and a lower concave curve. Cyma Reversa - igoca
Cymatium A small cyma is called a cymatium. When a cyma is used as the crown moulding of an entablature, it is called a cymatium. Cymatium - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Dentils Tooth-like blocks used in a close repeating pattern. Dentils are used in some Doric Order buildings in place of mutules. Dentils also appear on the bed moulding of Ionic, Corinthian and Composite orders. Dentils - igoca
Die On a pedestal, the die is a rectangular block that separates cap from the base. Die - igoca
Doric Order

One of the five orders of classical architecture, which also include: Tuscan, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The Doric order was developed in Greece and adopted by the Romans. Identifying features include columns that are stouter than the other orders, often 6 to 7 times as tall as the diameter at the base. In Greece Doric columns rested directly on the floor without the benefit of a pedestal or base moulding. Roman Doric columns tend to be slimmer and sit upon an Attic base. The Doric entablature is characterized by the triglyphs and metopes.

More on Doric columns and the Doric order

Doric order - igoca
Eaves The edge of a roof. In most structures the eaves project beyond the surface of the wall protecting it from rain and snow. Eaves - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Echinus Decorative moulding. Used on columns in classical architecture, the echinus sits below the abacus and above the necking Echinus - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Entabulature In classical architecture, the uppermost elements supported by columns are referred to as the entablature. Components of the enblature include: the architrave, the frieze and the cornice. Entablature - igoca
Entasis From the word "bowed," entasis describes the subtle curve of a column. Entasis - igoca
Extrados The convex curve formed by the outer edge of an arch. The inner edge is called the intrados. Extrados - igoca
Fascia A flat horizontal surface. In classical architecture, fascia are often used in multiple bands, each projecting beyond the one below. Fascia - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Fillet A narrow band with a vertical face. Fillets are often interposed between curved mouldings. Fillet - igoca
Fillet, Sunk A fillet that is depressed between two other architectural elements. Fillet, Sunk Fillet - igoca
Frieze Sitting below the cornice and above the architrave, the frieze is the central element of the entablature. The frieze may be left plain or decorated in relief. Frieze - igoca
Gable The front face or projection created by a pitched roof.  
Gothic Style Gothic architecture developed in Europe during the medieval period, from about 500 CE to 1500 CE. Evolving from Romanesque architecture it fell from vogue with the renewed interest in classical architecture during the Renaissance, from about 1400 CE to 1500 CE.  
Hip An inclined section of the roof connecting two sloping roof planes that meet at the ridge. Hip - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Ionic Order

One of five orders of classical architecture, the others being: Tuscan, Doric, Corinthian and Composite. The Ionic and Doric styles were widely used in ancient Greece and later adopted by the Romans. Ionic columns are characterized by volutes in the capital.

More about Ionic columns and the Ionic order

Ionic order - igoca
Intrados The inside curved soffit of an arch. The opposite face is known as the extrados. Intrados - igoca
Jamb The sides of a door or window frame.  
Lean-to The lean-to is one of the simplest roofs formed by a single sloping plane. Lean-to - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Lintel A horizontal beam spanning the opening, such as one made by a door or window.  
Modillion Brackets that appear beneath the corona. Frequently used in the Corinthian and Composite order. Modillian - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Block Modillions
Rectangularly shaped modillions. Modillions, Block Modillions - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Mouldings A variety of decortive strips. Mouldings come in a variety of shapes and forms.  
Mutule A rectangular block that hangs from the soffit of the cornice in the Doric order. Mutules appear over the triglyphs. Mutule - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Necking On a Doric column, the necking appears as a plain section beneath the capital and above the astragal. Necking - Glossary of Classical Architecture
Ovolo A convex moulding, among woodworkers it is referred to as a "quarter round." Ovolo - igoca
Parapet   Parapet - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Pedestal In classical architecture columns may sit on a pedestal, usually having a square die, a base and cornice. Pedestal - igoca
Pier A square pillar or the part of a wall that sits between doors or windows.  
Plinth The lowest part of the base of a column or pedestal. The plinth helps to distribute the weight born by the column more evenly.  
Post A vertical element that may be used to support walls or horizontal beams. Post - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Reed Sometimes called reed moulding or reeding, a series of convex mouldings running parallel. Reed - igoca
Ridge Two sloping roofs join to create a ridge. Ridge - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Romanesque Style Develed in Italy and western Europe, Romanesque architecture appeared after the Roman classical period and prior to the Gothic period.  
Sea-shell A decorative element in the shape of a sea-shell. Sea-shell - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Scotia A concave moulding between two fillets. A scotia is one of the elements used in the Attic base of columns. Scotia - igoca
Shaft The portion of a column between the base and the capital.  
Soffit The underside of a roof formed by eaves or a cornice. Soffit - igoca
Spandrel The triangular space formed by the extrados of an arch and other wall elements. Spandrel - igoca
String Course Horizontal moulding usually made from a series of complex profiles. String Course - igoca
Tænia A fillet positioned directly above the architrave. Part of the entablature. Taenia - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Three-quarter Hollow Moulding shaped by a three-quarter concave profile.  
Three-quarter Moulding Moulding shaped by a three-quarter convex profile. Three-quarter Molding - igoca
Thumb Molding Thumb-shaped moulding. Molding, Thumb Molding - igoca
Torus A semi-circular, convex moulding. The torus is one of the distinctive elements in the Attic base used by columns in classical architecture. Torus - igoca
Triglyph A rectangular detail, representative of the beams used in post and beam construction. In the Doric order, regularly spaced triglyphs appear on the frieze. The spaces between the triglyphs are called metopes.  
Tuscan Order One of the five orders of classical architecture. The Tuscan order was developed in Rome and does not appear in ancient Greece. Added to the classical orders by Renaissance architectural scholars who felt that the Tuscan order predates the Greek Doric and Ionic. Tuscan colums are unfluted with a simple base and unadorned capital and entablature. Tuscan Order - igoca
Valley The area formed between the ridges of two adjoined roofs. Valley - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Horizontal Valley
The area formed by the parallel ridges of two roofs. Valley, Horizontal Valley - Glossary of Classic Architecture
Vault Vaults are formed by the continuarion of an arch.  
Volutes A spriral form which is a distinctive element of the capital of Ionic columns.  
Wave Moulding Moulding formed by two round mouldings.