Posted by: episystechpubs | October 28, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Gargoyles and Grotesques

Today I have something brief for you: the difference between gargoyles and grotesques. While both are stone elements on a building, they have different purposes and etymologies. The definitions and etymologies are from Merriam-Webster, except where noted:

· gargoyle (noun)

1a: a spout often having the form of a grotesque figure or animal and projecting from a roof gutter to throw rainwater clear of a building

Middle English: from Old French gargouille ‘throat,’ also ‘gargoyle’ (because of the water passing through the throat and mouth of the figure); related to Greek gargarizein ‘to gargle’ (imitating the sounds made in the throat).[KC – Etymology from


Oxford Gargoyles

· grotesque (noun)

1a : decorative art (as in sculpture, painting, architecture) characterized by fanciful or fantastic representations of human and animal forms often combined with each other and interwoven with representations of foliage, flowers, fruit, wreaths, or other similar figures into a bizarre hybrid composite that is typically aesthetically satisfying but that may use distortion or exaggeration of the natural or the expected to the point of comic absurdity, ridiculous ugliness, or ludicrous caricature

b (1): a piece of decorative art done in this style

(2): one of the figures or designs in such a piece of decorative art

(3): something suggestive of or resembling such art or the figures or designs of such art

Middle French and Old Italian; Middle French grotesque, crotesque, from Old Italian grottesca, from (pittura) grottesca, literally, cave painting, ancient painting found in the ruins of Rome; grottesca, feminine of grottesco, adjective

York Minster Grotesque

Kara Church

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