A Survey of the Built Environment

Define Architecture Words - Find Architecture Names

Architecture and design have many moving parts—some are people and some are things. These online glossaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias will help you find answers fast. Learn the specialized vocabulary for architecture, interior decorating, construction, and related fields.

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Spanish-Influenced Balconies in Campeche, Mexico
Spanish-Influenced Balconies in Campeche, Mexico. Photo by Adalberto Rios Szalay/Sexto Sol/Photodisc Collection/Getty Images

Use this alphabetical dictionary to find definitions and pictures for words related to architecture and building design.

EASY TO USE: Select a letter to go to a page that lists words beginning with that letter.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U-V

Index: Architecture Words A-Z

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Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) at his drawing board, 1962
Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) at his drawing board, 1962. Photo by Romano Cagnoni/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (cropped)

From Alvar Aalto to Peter Zumthor, find your favorite designer in this list of great architects. This directory lists more than 100 top names in the world of architecture. Each entry is linked to a biography and a list of important works.

Index: Great Architects A-Z

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Composite capital c. 1887, a wooden decoration in a cabin of a Spanish Navy vessel
Composite capital c. 1887, a wooden decoration in a cabin of a Spanish Navy vessel. Photo by The New York Historical Society/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images

Architecture is a visual art. These Picture Dictionaries provide illustrated definitions for complex ideas like Deconstructivism and Classical Orders. Included are picture dictionaries for Historic Periods and Styles, Modern Architecture, Column Styles & Types, Roof Styles, House Styles, Colonial Styles, and Victorian Styles.

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Close-up of hands passing business card
Close-up of hands passing business card. Passing business card photo by Jetta Productions / The Image Bank / Getty Images cropped

Check the business card of any architect or design pro and you'll see an acronym (a string of letters) such as AIA or RA. What do the letters stand for? Find answers in this glossary of architecture acronyms.

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Electrical Glossary

Dining inside Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, ballroom ceiling with large coffer, 2 chand.
Inside Oheka Castle on January 12, 2012 in Huntington, New York. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Understanding wiring and electricity begins with learning the complicated vocabulary. This glossary of electrical terms includes the basics such as Buss Bar, GFCI, Romex, and more.

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Feng Shui Glossary

Eight Trigrams of Bagua
Eight Trigrams of Bagua. Artist: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

From BAGUA to Space Clearing, this glossary has definitions for words related to the ancient Asian art of Feng Shui, including Feng Shui theories and Feng Shui cures.

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Furniture Glossary

Marcel Breuer's tubular and leather Wassily Chair, 1925 design sold by KnollStudio
Marcel Breuer's Wassily Chair, 1925 design sold by KnollStudio. Press image courtesy Knoll Inc. at http://www.knoll.com/product/wassily-chair (cropped/resized)

Do words like Bergere, Burl, and Chinoiserie leave you stumped? This glossary of furniture terms has answers.

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Garage & Storage Glossary

Barn converted into a garage, Madbury, New Hampshire
Barn converted into a garage, Madbury, New Hampshire. Barn converted into a garage, Madbury, New Hampshire. Photo ©Tony Fallon Architecture

The words in this glossary are often used when designing and building garages and storage spaces. Included: Drywall, joist, beam, and stud.

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Glossary of DIY Home Repair and Tool Terms

Woman Renovating Home
Woman Renovating Home. Photo by Cavan Images/Stone/Getty Images

What's a BTU? What's a Zip Tool? Find meanings for terms and phrases related to construction and home repair.

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Housewares & Appliances Glossary

Male customer at Home Depot looking inside a microwave oven
Home Depot Shopping. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

Find the words you need to know to evaluate and choose appliances, kitchenware, cutlery, cookware, and other housewares. Included: Anodized, CADR, Encapsulated, HEPA, and more.

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Interior Design Glossary

Kitchen of Mendocino County Wooden Cottage by California Architect Cathy Schwabe
Kitchen of Mendocino County Wooden Cottage by California Architect Cathy Schwabe. Photo by David Wakely courtesy Houseplans.com

The vocabulary of design includes specialized words for furnishings, fabrics, paints, and decorative details. In this glossary, you'll find definitions for Ceiling Medallion, Finial, MDF, Polyurethane, and more.

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Pool & Patio Glossary

Grand Piano-shaped swimming pool at Twin Palms Estate (1947) in Palm Springs, CA, designed by E. Stewart Williams for Frank Sinatra
Twin Palms Estate (1947) in Palm Springs, CA, designed by E. Stewart Williams for Frank Sinatra. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Here are the words you need to know when designing a pool, patio, deck, or terrace. Included: Espalier, Pergola, Oxidant, and more.