finial

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English[edit]

finial at peak of gable (illustration by Viollet-le-Duc, 1856)
finial of the dome of the Taj Mahal
finial (2) of a newel post

Etymology[edit]

Late Middle English finial < Old French fin or Latin fīnis (end) +‎ -ial

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfɪn.i.əl/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

finial (plural finials)

  1. (architecture) The knot or bunch of foliage, or foliated ornament, that forms the upper extremity of a pinnacle in Gothic architecture.
    Coordinate term: fleuron
  2. (by extension) Any decorative fitting at the peak of a gable, or on the top of a flagpole, fencepost, newel post of a staircase etc.
    • 1988, Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming-Pool Library, paperback edition edition, Penguin Books, page 142:
      It was a narrow, gravelled island we had to lie on, guarded by glazed brick chimneys and, running along the sides, a prickly little gothic fence of iron finials and terracotta quatrefoils.
    • 1994 January 12, David Karp, “Once Considered Exotic, Some Fruits Become Family”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Mark Twain called the cherimoya “deliciousness itself,” though others have described this heart-shaped, fist-sized fruit with pale-green leathery skin as [] “the finial for a giant four-poster bed.”
    • 2005, David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, New York: Little, Brown and Company, →ISBN, page 129:
      He says there’s a very particular etiquette to having your flag at half-mast: you’re supposed to first run it all the way up to the finial at the top and then bring it halfway down.
    • 2021 September 22, “A signal survivor from the 1800s”, in RAIL, number 940, page 82:
      For several years, the finial was missing, and its replica replacement will save the wooden post from rotting.

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