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oriel window (sense 1)


Old French oriol (gallery, corridor), Late Latin oriolum (portico, hall), probably from Latin aureolus (gilded), applied to an apartment decorated with gilding. See oriole. Or a diminutive of Latin os (mouth).



oriel (plural oriels)

  1. (architecture) A large polygonal recess in a building, such as a bay window, forming a protrusion on the outer wall.
    • ?, Alfred Tennyson, The Day-Dream
      The beams that thro' the oriel shine / Make prisms in every carven glass.
  2. (obsolete) A gallery for minstrels.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of W. Hamper to this entry?)
  3. (obsolete) A small apartment next to a hall, used for dining.

Usage notes[edit]

  • There is no generally accepted difference between a bay window and an oriel. In the United States, the latter name is often applied to bay windows which are small, and either polygonal or round, and to those that are corbelled out from the wall instead of resting on the ground.