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Classical Architecture


Architecture Dictionary: L


Gr., an imperial standard carried in war before the later Roman emperors. It consisted of a long staff, with a small piece of wood fixed transversely near the top; the whole being surmounted by a monogram of Christ. Before the time of Constantine, a similar ensign was terminated by the figure of an eagle.

early christian labarum, Ravenna, Italy


In Gothic architecture, the drip or hood moulding over an aperture when it is returned square.


(Lat.) A term in masonry employed to denote the value of a piece of work in consideration of the time bestowed upon it.


Literally a place, usually subterraneous, full of inextricable windings. The four celebrated labyrinths of antiquity were the Cretan, Egyptian, Lemnian, and Italian. The first has the reputation of being the work of Daedalus to secure the Minotaur; the second is said to have been constructed under the command of Psammeticus, king of Egypt; the third was on the island of Lemnos, and was sup­ported by columns of great beauty ; the fourth is reported to have been designed by Porsenna, king of Etruria, as a tomb for himself and his successors.

Labyrinth Fret

A fret, with many turnings, in the form of a labyrinth. See Fret.

labyrinth fret


(Lat) One of the apartments in the ancient baths, so called from its haring been first used in Laconia.


A yellow varnish, consisting of a solution of shell-lac in alcohol, coloured by gamboge, saffron, annotto, or other yellow, orange, or red colouring matters. Tbe use of lacquer is chiefly for varnishing brass, and some other metals, in order to give them a golden colour and preserve their lustre.


(Lat) Strictly a dairy-house. In ancient architecture, it was a place in the Roman herb market, indicated by a column, called the Columna Lactaria, where foundlings were fed and nourished.


(Lat.) The ceiling or under surface of the member of an order. Also the under side of the larmier or corona of a cornice. The under side also of that part of the architrave between the capitals of columns. The ceiling of any part in architecture re­ceives the name of lacunar only when it consists of compartments sunk or hollowed, without spaces or bands, between the panels; if it is with bands, it is called laquear.

Lady Chapel

The name given to a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin, generally, in ancient cathedrals, placed behind the high altar.

Lancet Arch

One whose head is shaped like the point of a lancet, and generally applied to long narrow windows.

lancet arch


The terminating floor of a flight of stairs, either above or below it


(Fr. Lanterne.) A drum-shaped erection, either square, circular, elliptical, or polygonal, on the top of a dome, or on that of an apartment, to give light.


The part of one body which lies on and covers another.

Laquear. See Lacunar.

(Lat) In ancient architecture, the apartment in which the lares or house­hold gods were deposited. It frequently contained also statues of the proprietor’s ancestors.


The place in which undressed meat is kept for the use of a family.


(Fr.) The same as Corona, which see.


The catch by which a door is held fast

Latent Heat

That which is insensible to the thermometer, upon which the liquid and aeriform states of bodies depend, and which becomes sensible during the conversion of vapours into liquids and of liquids into solids.


(Sax. Lxcra.) A thin cleft piece of wood used in slating, tiling, and plastering. There are two sorts, double and single, the latter being about three-eighths of an inch thick, and the former barely a quarter of an inch. Pantile laths are long square pieces of fir, on which the pantiles hang.

Lath Bricks.

A species made in some parts of England. They are twenty-two inches long and six inches broad.

Lath floated and set fair.

Three-coat plasterers’ work, in which the first is called pricking up; the second floating ; the third, or finishing, is done with fine stuff.

Lath laid and set.

Two-coat plasterers* work, except that the first is called laying, and is executed without scratching, unless with a broom. When used on walls, this sort of work is generally coloured; when on ceilings, whited.

Lath plastered, set, and coloured. The same as lath laid, set, and coloured.

Lath pricked up, floated, and set for Paper. The same as lath floated and set fair.

Lateral Strength

The resistance which a body will afford at right angles to its grain.


( Fr. Lattis.) A reticulated window, made of laths or strips of iron, separated by glass windows, and only used where air, rather than light is to be admitted, as in cellars and dairies


An apartment occupied by the laundress of an establishment It should be spacious and well supplied with every convenience for mangling, drying, and ironing the linen of a family. Horses, or slender frames of wood, should be provided for hanging the linen upon, which should be suspended to the timbers of the ceiling by pulleys, by which they may be raised and lowered.

Lavatory. (Lat) See Cloister.


In brickwork and masonry, synonymous with Course, which see.


In plastering, the first coat on lath of two-coat work, the surface whereof is roughed by sweeping with a broom. The difference between laying and rendering being, that the latter is the first coat upon brick.

Lazarhouse or Lazaretto.

(Ital.) A hospital for the reception of the poor and those afflicted with contagious diseases. There are many in the southern states of Europe for the performance of quarantine, into which those only are admitted who arrive from countries infected by the plague, or suspected of being so. An account of the principal lazarettos of Europe was published by the celebrated Howard.


(Sax. Lab.) The heaviest metal next to gold, platina, and mercury, being eleven times heavier than its own bulk of water.


.A building whose rafters pitch against or lean on to another building or against a wall.


Ornaments imitated from natural leaves, whereof the ancients used two sorts, natural and imaginary. The former were those of the laurel, palm, acanthus, and olive; but they took great liberties in the representations of all of them.


A surface serving to support a body either in motion or at rest Ledges of doors are the narrow surfaces wrought upon the jambs and sofites parallel to the wall to stop the door, so that when it is shut the ledges coincide with the surface of the door. A ledge, therefore, is one of the sides of a rebate, each rebate being formed of two sides. In temporary work the ledges of doors are formed by fillets.


The development of a surface, or the surface of a body stretched out on a plane, so that the dimensions of the different sides may be easily ascertained.


In scaffolding for brick buildings are horizontal pieces of timber parallel to the walls. They are fastened ta the standards, or upright poles, by cords, to support the put-bgs, which lie at right angles to and on the walls as they are brought up, and receive the boards for working on.

Legs or an Hyperbola. The two parts on each side the vertex.
Legs or Triangle. The sides which inclose the base.

Length. (Sax. Lens.) The greatest extension of a body. In a right prism the length is the distance between the ends; in a right pyramid or cone, the length is the distance between the vertex and the base.

Lengthening or Timber

is the method of joining several beams, so as to form a long beam of any given length.


(Sax. Lcejrel.) A line or surface which inclines to neither side. The term is used substantively to denote an instrument which shows the direction of a straight line parallel to the plane of the horizon. The plane of the sensible horizon is indicated in two ways: by the direction of the plummet, or plumb line, to which it is perpendicular; and by the surface of a fluid at rest. Accordingly, levels are formed either by means of the plumb line, or by the agency of a fluid applied in some particular manner. They all depend, however, upon the same principle, namely, the action of terrestrial gravity.
The carpenter’s level consists of a long rule, straight on its lower edge, about ten or twelve feet in length, with an upright fixed to its upper edge, perpendicular to and in the middle of the length, having its sides in the same plane with those of the rule, and a straight line drawn on one of its sides perpendicular to the straight edge of the rule. This standing piece is generally mortised into the other, and finally braced on each side, to secure it from accident, and has its upper end kerfed in three places, viz. through the perpendicular line, and on each side. The straight edge of the transverse piece has a hole, or notch, cut out on the other side equal on each side the perpendicular line. A plummet is suspended by a string from the middle kerf, at the top of the standing piece, to vibrate freely in the hole or notch when hanging at full length. When the straight edge of the level is applied to two distant points, with its two sides placed vertically, if the plummet hangs freely, and the string coincides with the straight line on the standing piece, the two points are level. If not, suppose one of the points to be at the given height, the other must be lowered or raised, as the case may require, till the string is brought to a coincidence with the perpendicular line. By two points is meant two surfaces of contact, as two blocks of wood, or the upper edges of two distant beams.
The uses of the level in carpentry are various, and need not be here detailed. The mason’s level is formed of three pieces of wood, joined in the form of an isosceles triangle, having a plummet suspended from the vertex over a mark in the centre of the base.


The art or act of finding a line parallel to the horizon, or at one or more stations, in order to determine the height of one place with respect to another, for laying grounds even, regulating descents, draining morasses, conducting waters for the irrigation of land, etc.


In mechanics an inflexible rod, moveable about a fulcrum, or prop, and having forces applied to two or more points in it. The lever is one of the mechanical powers, and being the simplest of them all, was the first attempted to be explained. For its properties .

Lever Boards.

A set of boards so fastened that they may be turned at any angle to admit more or less light, or to lap upon each other so as to exclude all air or light through apertures.

Lewis or Lewisson

An instrument said to have been used in England by the builders of the middle ages to raise stones of more than ordinary weight to tbe upper part of a building. It was revived by a French artisan in the reign of Lewis XIV., and is now generally employed. It operates by the pieces forming its dove-tail end being kept in their correspondent places in the stone by a middle straight piece, kept in its situation by a pin passing through it and tbe dovetail pieces at top, and the combination of the whole, is with a large ring.


A provincial name adopted by geologists for an argillaceous limestone, which, together with its associated bed, is characterised by peculiar fossils.


An edifice or apartment for the reception of a collection of books. For remarks on the construction of public libraries


A term sometimes used to denote the openings of doors, gates, and windows, and other places through which air and light have passage.


A lofty building, on the top whereof artificial lights are placed to guide ships at sea. For general observations on lighthouses

Like Arcs.

In the projection of the sphere, the parts of lesser circles containing an equal number of degrees with the corresponding arcs of greater circles.
Like Figures.

In geometry, such as have their angles equal, and the sides about the equal angles proportional.


(Germ. Leim, glue.) A most useful earth, obtained by exposing chalk, and other kinds of limestones or carbonates of lime, to a red heat, an operation generally conducted in kilns constructed for the purpose, by which the carbonic acid is expelled, and lime, more or less pure, according to the original quality of the limestone, remains, in which state it is called quicklime.


One for the purpose of burning lime. They are constructed in a variety of ways, to save expense, or to answer to the particular nature of the fuel.


A generic term for those varieties of carbonate of lime which are neither crystallised or earthy, the former being calcareous spar, the latter chalk. When burned they yield quicklime.


(Lat. Linea.) In geometry, a magnitude having only one dimension, and defined by Euclid to be that which has length without breadth. The term is also used to denote a measure of length used formerly in France, namely, the twelfth part of an inch, or 1/4 of a foot
Line of Direction. In mechanics, the line in which motion is communicated.
Line, geometrical. In perspective, any straight line in the geometrical or primary line.
Line, horizontal. A line parallel to the horizon. In perspective, it is the vanishing line of horizontal planes.
Link of Station. The intersection of a plane passing through the eye, perpendicular to the picture, and to the geometrical or primary plane with the plane itself.
Line, vertical. The intersection of a vertical plane with the picture passing along the station line.
Line, visual. A ray of light reflected from the object to the eye.
Lines or Light and Shade. Those in which the light and shade of a body are separated. Thus, on a curved surface, it is the line determined by a tangent to the surface in tbe direction of the rays of light.
Linear Perspective. See Book II. Chap. IV. Sect. 2.
Lining. The covering of the surface of any body with another thin substance. Thus the lining of a wall is a wooden boarding, whose edges are either rebated or grooved and tongued. Lining is distinguished from casing, the first being a covering in the interior of a building, whilst the latter is the covering of the exterior part of a building.
Lining out Stuff. (Participle.) The drawing lines on a piece of board or plank so as to cut it into thinner pieces.
Linings of Boxings for window shutters, are the pieces of framework into which the window shutters are folded back.
Linings of a Door. Those of the sides of apertures of doors called the jambs or jamb- linings, that which covers the top or head being the sofite.


A horizontal piece of timber or stone over a door, window, or other opening to discharge the superincumbent weight If a wall be very thick, more than one lintel piece will be required, unless scanting of sufficient width be found. In some old books on carpentry lintels are classed under wall plates, but the word if now never used in this sense, unless the joisting or tie-beams rest upon it, in which case it is both a lintel and a wall plate.
List or List el. The same as Fillht, which see.

Listed Boards. See Boards.
Listing. (Participle.) Cutting the sap wood out from both edges of a board.


A soil in which clay prevails. It is called heavy or light as the clay may be more or less abundant.


(Germ. Laube.) An inclosed space surrounding or communicating with one or more apartments, such as the boxes of a theatre, for instance. By it also is understood a small hall or waiting room, or the entrance into a principal apartment where there is a considerable space between it and a portico or vestibule; but the dimensions, especially as regards the width, will not allow of its being called a vestibule or anti-room.


(Sax. Loc.) A well-known instrument, consisting of springs and bolts, for fastening doors, drawers, chests, &c. A good lock is a masterpiece in smithery, requiring much art and delicacy to contrive and vary the wards, springs, bolts, and other parts whereof it is composed, so as to adjust them to the places where they are serviceable, and to the various purposes of their use. The structure of locks is so varied, and the number of inventions of their different sorts so extended, that we cannot attempt to enumerate them.
Those placed on outer doors are called stock locks, those on chamber doors spring locks, and such as are hidden in the thickness of the doors to which they are applied, mortise locks'? The padlock is too well known to need description here.
The conditions which seem indispensable in a perfect lock are, 1. that certain parts of the lock should be variable in position through a great number of combinations, one only whereof shall allow the lock to be opened or shut; 2. that this last-mentioned combination should be variable at the pleasure of the possessor; 3. that it should not be possible, after the lock is closed and the combination disturbed, for any one, not even the maker of the lock, to discover, by any examination, what may be the proper situations of the parts required to open the lock ; 4. that trials of this kind shall not be capable of injuring the works; 5. that it shall require no key ; 6. and be as easily opened in the dark as in the light; 7. that the opening and shutting shall be done by a process as simple as that of a common lock; 8. that it should open without a key or with one, at pleasure ; 9. that the keyhole be concealed, defended, or inaccessible ; 10. that the key may be used by a stranger without his knowing or being able to discover the adopted combination; 11. that the key be capable of adjustment to all the varia­tions of the lock, and yet be simple ; 12. that the lock should not be liable to be taken off and examined, whether the receptacle be open or shut, except by one who knows the method of combination.
The above considerations involve a problem of great mechanical difficulty, which has not yet been solved, though much has been done towards it. For the locks in common use in buildings, see p. 592.
Lodge. A small house, situate in a park or domain, subordinate to the mansion. Also the cottage placed at the gate of the road leading to the mansion.

Loghousb. A hut constructed of the trunks of trees.
Logistic Spiral. One whose radii are in continued proportion, and in which the radii are at equal angles ; or, in other words, a spiral line whose radii every where make equal angles with the tangents.

Longimetry. A term used to denote the operation of trigonometry for measuring lengths, whether accessible or inaccessible.
Loop. (Fr.) A small narrow window. A loophole is a term applied to the vertical series of doors in a warehouse, from which the goods, in craning, are delivered into a warehouse.

Lotus. A plant of the water-lily species much used in the architectural ornaments of the early nations, and especially in the capitals of Egyptian columns.

Lozenge. A quadrilateral figure of four equal sides, with oblique angles.

Lune or Lunula. The space between two equal arcs of a circle.


(Fr.) A cylindric, cylindrical, or spherical aperture in a ceiling. As an ex­ample of the term, we may refer to the upper lights in the nave of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Luthern. The same as Dormer, which see.

Lyino Panels.

Those wherein the fibres of the wood, or the grain of it, lie in an hori­zontal direction.



A plinth or step above the cornice of the podium of ancient temples, which surrounded or embraced the stylobate, whereof an example may be seen in the temple of Fortuna Virilis at Rome.


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