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From Old French giste, feminine of gist, the past participle of gesir (to lie down).


  • IPA(key): /dʒɔɪst/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪst


joist (plural joists)

  1. A piece of timber or steel laid horizontally, or nearly so, to which the planks of the floor, or the laths or furring strips of a ceiling, are nailed.
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year[1], London: E. Nutt et al.:
      [] a Family was infected there, in so terrible a Manner that every one of the House died; the last Person lay dead on the Floor, and as it is supposed, had laid her self all along to die just before the Fire; the Fire, it seems had fallen from its Place, being of Wood, and had taken hold of the Boards and the Joists they lay on, and burnt as far as just to the Body, but had not taken hold of the dead Body []
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “Chapter 74”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299:
      There are generally forty-two teeth in all; in old whales, much worn down, but undecayed; nor filled after our artificial fashion. The jaw is afterwards sawn into slabs, and piled away like joists for building houses.
    • 1895, Clara Bell (translator), At the Sign of the Cat and Racket (1842) by Honoré de Balzac, London: J.M. Dent, p. 17,[2]
      A formidable wooden beam, resting on four pillars, which appeared to have bent under the weight of the decrepit house, had been encrusted with as many coats of different paint as there are of rouge on an old duchess’s cheek. In the middle of this broad and fantastically carved joist there was an old painting representing a cat playing rackets.
    • 1923, Willa Cather, One of Ours, Book Four, Chapter 6,[3]
      [] even the carpenters who made her over for the service had not thought her worth the trouble, and had done their worst by her. The new partitions were hung to the joists by a few nails.

Derived terms[edit]



joist (third-person singular simple present joists, present participle joisting, simple past and past participle joisted)

  1. (transitive) To fit or furnish with joists.
    • 2001, David Pickell, Between the Tides: A Fascinating Journey Among the Kamoro of New Guinea[4], Hong Kong: Periplus, revised edition, 2002, Chapter Four:
      The floors are joisted with sapling tree trunks, and the flooring itself is made of bark, split and pounded flat into strips. No attempt is made either to fasten or join the strips of flooring.