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Classical Architecture


Architecture Dictionary: M

M Roof

A roof formed by tbe junction of two common roofs with a vallum between them. The letter inverted represents this species of covering.


(Fr. Machicoulis.) In castellated architecture are, according to Grose, the projections, supported by brackets or corbels, through which melted lead and stones were dropped on the heads of assailants. They were not probably, however, projecting works, but sometimes were considered as the series of square holes in the vaultings of the portals used for the same purpose.


(Gr. Maxcunj.) In a general sense, any thing which serves to increase or regulate the effect of a given force. Machines are simple or compound. The former are the simple mechanical powers, six in number; viz. the lever, the wheel and axle, the pulley, the wedge, the screw, and the funicular machine. The latter are formed by the com­bination of two or more simple machines, and are classed according to the forces by which they are put in motion, as hydraulic machines, pneumatic machines, electrical machines,etc. or the purposes they are intended to serve, as military machines, architectural machines, etc.

Maonesian Limestone.

An extensive series of beds lying in geological position imme­diately above the coal measures; so called because the limestone, which is the principal member of the series, contains magnesia.


(Lat.) A term by which size, extent, or quantity is designated. It was originally applied to the space occupied by any figure; or, in other words, it was applied to objects strictly termed geometrical, and of three dimensions, length, breadth, and thickness, hut it has gradually become enlarged in its signification, so as to be given to every kind of quantity that admits of mensuration, or of which greater or less can be predicated ; in which sense it was used by Euclid.


A wood often used for doors and window-sashes. Sec p. 487. The Jamaica mahogany is the hardest and most beautiful, and is distinguished from that of Honduras by the chalky appearance of its fibres. Those from Honduras appear quite dark. After oiling, this distinction is not so clearly observable.

Main Couple. See Couple.


(Lat. Malleus, a hammer.) The property of being susceptible of extension under the blows of a hammer. It is a characteristic of some of the metals, most particularly in gold. Common gold-leaf is not more a two-hundred-thousandth part of an inch in thickness. Five grains may be beaten out so as to cover a surface of more than two hundred and seventy square inches.


(Lat.) A large kind of wooden hammer much used by artificers who work with a chisel, as masons, stonecutters, carpenters, joiners, etc.


(Gr.) A native bitumen used by the ancients for plastering the walls of their dwellings, &c. An artificial kind was made of pitch, wax, plaster, and grease; another sort was composed of lime slaked with wine, and incorporated with melted pitch and fresh figs.


(Fr. Mandrin.) In machinery, a revolving shank, to which turners affix their work in the lathe.


The trough in the stall of a stable wherein is placed the corn or other short food given to live stock, and more especially to horses.

Mansard Roof

(So called from the name of its inventor, Franfois Mansard.) Tbe same as Curb Roof, which see.


A large house; a term more usually applied to one in the country. The origin of the word and its application is supposed to be derived from the mansiones, or stationary camps of the Roman soldiers.

Mantle Tree. See Chimney.


(Fr. Marbre.) A term limited by mineralogists and geologists to the several varieties of carbonate of lime, having more or less of a granular and crystalline texture. Among sculptors, the word is used to denote several compact or granular kinds of stone susceptible of a very fine polish; the varieties of it are extremely numerous.

The most valuable sorts used by the ancients were the Pentelican, which was white, and was obtained from Mount Penteles in Attica. It was used in the Parthenon and other Athenian buildings, and was also in great repute among the sculptors.

The Parian marble was, as its name imports, from the island of Paros, in which Mount Marpessus yielded the best, which was called Marpessian. The marble of Paros was also sometimes termed Lychneus, because of its use in making candelabra, and Legdinum, from the promontory of Lygdos.

Another of the white marbles of antiquity was that of Mount Hymettus in Attica. The marbles of Thasus and Lesbos were white, and in great repute. The latter island produced also a black marble. At Luna, in Etruria, there was found a marble even whiter than that of Paros. Amongst the white marbles may, moreover, be mentioned the marmor Phellense from Mount Phellens; the marmor Coralticum, found near the river Coral ios in Phrygia, and termed also Sangarium, from another name of the same river. The marmor Cyzicus was taken from the quarries of Cyzicus in Asia Minor;

the Sgnnadicum, or marmor Phrygium, was obtained from the environs of the city of Synnas in Phrygia, and was of a black ground with small circles. Another sort of marble, which resembled ivory in its colour, was called chemites. The marble of Tetnarus was highly esteemed as a black marble. The marmor Lybicum, or Numidian marble, called also marmor LucuUevm, was what the French term noir antique. The celebrated marmor Chium was excavated from the Mount Pelineus in the island of Chio, and was of a transparent chequered black colour.

The marmor obsidianum was from Ethiopia, and of the black species, as was the Proconnesian, or Cyzican marble, from the island of Proconnesus. That from Mount Taygetes, called marmor Laconicum, was the well- known verd antique of antiquaries.

The marble of Carystus was a mingled green ; that called the A tract urn, from Mount Atrax in Thessaly, was a mixture of white, green, blue, and black. The green Tiberian and Augustan marbles were obtained from Egypt.

The marmor Aphites, or Memphites, which took its first name from its resemblance to the skin of a serpent, and its second from the city of Memphis, where it was found, is the Serpen- tino antico of the Italians.

The marble of Corinth was yellow, and the marmor Phengites of Cappadocia was white, with yellow spots. The Rhodian marble was marked with spots resembling gold; that of Melos was yellow, and excavated in Mount Acynthus.


The material is brought to an even face by rubbing with free-stone, afterwards with pumice-stone, and lastly with emery of several colours; but white marble is finished with calcined tin. The Italians polish with lead and emery. The sawing of marble, preparatory to polishing, is by a saw of soft iron, with a continued supply of the sharpest sand and water. Margin or a Course. That part of the upper side of a course of slates which appears un-covered by the next superior course

Marigold Window. See Rose Window.


A cement used by the ancients, formed of pounded marble and lime well beaten together.


(Fr. Marquetrie.) Inlaid work, consisting of different pieces of various coloured woods, of small thickness, glued on to a ground, usually of oak or fir well dried and seasoned, which, to prevent casting and warping, is composed of several thicknesses. It was used by the early Italian builders in cabinet work; and John of Vienna, and others of his period, represented by its means figures and landscapes; but in the present day it is chiefly confined to floors, in which the divers pieces of wood are usually disposed in regular geometrical figures, and are rarely of more than three or four species.


(Fr.) The science of combining and joining stones for the formation of walls and other parts in constructing buildings. When applied in the construction of domes, groins, and circular arches, it is difficult and complicated, and is dependent on a thorough knowledge of descriptive geometry.

Among tbe ancients, several sorts of masonry were in use, which are described by Vitruvius as follows, in the eighth chapter of his second book : — “ The different species of walls,” he observes, “ are the reticulatum (net-like) , a method now in general use, and the incertum , which is the ancient mode. The reticulatum is very beautiful, but liable to split from the beds of the stones being unstable, and its deficiency in respect of bond. The incertum, on the contrary, course over course, and the whole bonded together, does not present so beautiful an appearance, though stronger than the reticulatum. Both species should be built of the smallest sized stones, that the walls, by sucking up and attaching themselves to the mortar, may last the longer; for as the stones are of a soft and porous nature, they absorb, in drying, the moisture of the mortar; and this, if used plentifully, will consequently exercise a greater cementing power; because from their containing a larger portion of moisture, the wall will not, of course, dry so soon as otherwise; and as soon as the moisture is absorbed by the pores of the stones from the mortar, the lime, losing its power, leaves the sand, so that the stones no longer adhere to it, and in a short time the work becomes unsound.

We may see this in several monuments about the city (Rome) which have been built of marble, or of stones squared externally, that is, on one face, but filled up with rubble run with mortar. Time in these has taken up the moisture of the mortar, and destroyed its efficacy by the porosity of the surface on which it acted. All cohesion is thus ruined, and the walls fall to decay. He who is desirous that this may not happen to his work should build his two-face walls two feet thick, either of red stone, or of bricks, or of common flint, binding them together with iron cramps run with lead, and duly preserving the middle space or cavity. The materials in this case not being thrown in at random, but the work well brought up on the beds, the upright joints properly arranged, and the face-walls, moreover, regularly tied together, they are not liable to bulge, nor be otherwise disfigured. In these respects one cannot refrain from admiring the walls of the Greeks. They make no use of soft stone in their buildings; when, however, they do not employ squared stones, they use either flint or hard stone, and, as though building with brick, they cross or break the upright joints, and thus produce the most durable work.

There are two sorts of this species of work, one called iaodomum , the other pseudisodomum . The first is so called, because in it all the courses are of an equal height; the latter received its name from the unequal heights of the courses. Both these methods make sound work ; first, because the stones are hard and solid, and therefore unable to absorb the moisture of the mortar, which is thus preserved to the longest period; secondly, because the beds being smooth and level, the mortar does not escape; and the wall, moreover, bonded throughout its whole thickness, becomes eternal. There is still another method, which is called emplectum , in use even among our country workmen. In this species the faces are wrought.

The other stones are, without working, deposited in the cavity between the two faces, and bedded in mortar as the wall is carried up. But the workmen, for the sake of despatch, carry up these casing walls, and then tumble in the rubble between them, so that there are thus three distinct thicknesses, namely, the two sides or facings, and the filling in. The Greeks, however, pursue a different course, laying the stones flat, and breaking the vertical joints; neither do they fill in the middle at random, but, by means of bond stones, make the wall solid, and of one thickness or piece. They moreover cross the wall from one face to the other, with bond stones of a single piece, which they call Staroyoi (diatoni) , tending greatly to strengthen the work.


(Germ. Masse.) The quantity of matter whereof any body is composed. The mass of a body is directly as the product of its volume into its density. Multiplied into the constant force of gravity, the mass constitutes the weight; hence the mass of a body is properly estimated by its weight.


(Gr. Mastrucri, a species of gum.) A cement of recent introduction into England, employed for plastering walls It is used with a considerable portion of linseed oU, and sets hard in a few days. From this latter circumstance, and from its being fit for the reception of punt in a very short period, it is extremely useful in works where expedition is necessary.


(Lat Materies.) Things composed of matter, or possessing its fundamental properties. Those used in building form the subject of the second Chapter of the second Book of this work, to which the reader is referred.


(Lat. Materies.) That which constitutes substance. Of its intimate nature, the human faculty possesses no cognisance, nor either by observation or experiment can data be furnished whereon to found an investigation of it. All that we seem likely to know of it is its sensible properties, some whereof are the foundation of physical science, others of the different subordinate sciences.


A term used to denote a sepulchral building, and so called from a very celebrated one erected to the memory of Mausolus, king of Caria, by his wife Artemisia, about 353 B.C. From its extraordinary magnificence, the building just mentioned was in ancient times esteemed the seventh wonder of the world. According to the* account of Pliny, it was 111 feet in circumference, and 140 feet high. It is said to have been encompassed by thirty-six columns, and to have been much enriched with sculpture.


In mathematics, that quantity which has an intermediate value between several others, formed according to any assigned law of succession. Thus, an arithmetical mean of several quantities is merely the average, found by dividing the sum of all the quantities by their number. A geometrical mean between two quantities, or a mean proportional, is the middle term of a duplicate ratio, or continued proportion of three terms; that is, that the first given term is to the quantity sought as that quantity is to the other given term. In arithmetic it is the square root of the product of the two given terms. The harmonical mean is a number such that the first and third terms being given, the first is to the third as the difference of the first and second is to the difference of the second and third.


(Lat. Mensura.) In geometry, strictly a magnitude or quantity taken as a unit, by which other magnitudes or quantities are measured. It is defined by Euclid as that which, by repetition, becomes equal to the quantity measured. Thus, in arithmetic, the measure of a number is some other number which divides it without a remainder, though, perhaps, such a definition rather intimates the notion of aliquot parts. But that meaning on which this article is submitted is the unit or standard by which extension is to be measured. We have measures of length, of superficies, and of volume or capacity. But the two latter are always deducible from the former; whence it is only necessary to establish one unit, namely, a standard of length. The choice of such a standard, definite and invariable, though beset with many and great difficulties, modern science has accomplished.


That branch of carpentry which relates to the disposition of the timbers of a building in respect of their relative strength and the Strains to which they are subjected.



A square, or, more properly, a circular table, on which are embossed figures, busts, and the like.


(Lat.) Any part of an edifice or any moulding in a collection of mouldings, as of those in a cornice, capital, base,etc.


(Fr.) A building for the housing and preservation of rare and foreign animals. The ancient Romans of opulence usually had private menageries, a sort of small park attached to their villa, and in them various kinds of animals were placed.


(Lat.) The science which teaches the method of estimating the magni-tudes of lines, superficies, and bodies. as applied to measuring and estimating buildings,.


A line traced on the surface of the earth coinciding with the intersection of the meridian of the place with the sensible horizon. It is therefore a line which lies due north and south. In Italy we often find these lines in large churches, as at Santa Maria del Fiore at Florence, the Duomo at Bologna, etc. They are traced on brass rods let into the pavement of the church, and marked with the signs, and otherwise graduated. A hole in the roof permits the sun’s rays to fall on them at his culmination, thus marking noon as well as his height each day in the heavens.


(Gr.) The plane face between the channels in the triglyphs of the Doric order.


(Gr.) Described by Vitruvius as itinera or passages; they were, however, smaller courts. Apollonius Rhodius, in describing the reception of the Argonauts at the palace of Zaetes, conducts them first into the vestibule, then through the folding gates into the mesaula, which had thalami here and there, and a portico on every side.


(Lat.) A mark or goal in the Roman circus to which the chariots ran.


The space or interval between two dentels.


In ancient architecture a term used by Vitruvius to denote the interval or space between the dentals of the Ionic, or triglyphs of the Doric order. Baldus observes that in an ancient MS. copy of that author, the word metatome is used instead of metoche. This made Daviler suspect that the common text of Vitruvius is corrupt, and that the word should not be metoche but metatome, as it were section.


The square space in the frieze between the triglyphs of the Doric order: it is left either plane or decorated, according to the taste of the architect. In the most ancient examples of this order the metopa was left quite open, whereof notice has been taken in the body of the work.


(Ital. Mezzano, middle.) A story of small height introduced between two higher ones.



A name given to the four quarters of a column divided by horizontal sections, forming angles of forty-five degrees on the plan.


The rail of a door level with the hand, on which the lock is usually fixed.


A measure of length in England equal to 1760 yards. The Roman pace was 5 feet; and a Roman foot being equal to 11/62 modern inches, it follows that the ancient Roman mile was equivalent to 1614 English yards, or very nearly eleven twelfths of an English statute mile. The measure of the English mile is incidentally defined by an act of parliament passed in the 35th of Elizabeth, restricting persons from erecting new buildings within three miles of London, in which act the mile is declared to be 8 furlongs of 40 perches each, and each perch equal to 161/2 feet.


A coarse grained quartzose sandstone. It is extracted from the group of strata which occur between the mountain limestone and the superincumbent coal formations.


(Arab. Menarah, a lantern.) A slender lofty turret, rising by different stages or stories, surrounded by one or more projecting balconies, common in Mohammedan countries, being used by the priests for summoning (from the balconies) the people to prayers at stated periods of the day.


An iron ore which, mixed with a proper quantity of lime, makes an excellent water cement.


A church to which an ecclesiastical fraternity has been or is attached. Tbe name is applied occasionally to cathedrals, as in the case of York Minster.



(Lat.) A term given to tbe sixtieth part of the lower diameter of a column, being a subdivision used for measuring the minuter parts of an order.



One composed of straight lines and curves, being neither entirely tbe sector nor the segment of a circle, nor the sector nor segment of an ellipsis, nor a parabola, nor an hyperbola.



(Lat.) An excavated reservoir of water surrounding a house, castle, or town. Model. (Lat.) An original or pattern proposed for any one to copy or imitate. Thus St. Paul's may be, though not strictly so, said to be built after the model of St Peter's at Rome. The word is also used to signify an artificial pattern made of wood, stone, plaster, or other material, with all its parts and proportions, for the satisfaction of the proprietor, or for the guide of the artificers in the execution of any great work. In all great buildings, the only sure method of proceeding is to make a model in relievo, and not to trust entirely to drawings.


(Fr.) A projection under the corona of the richer orders resembling a bracket In the Grecian Ionic there are no modillions, and they are seldom found in tbe Roman Ionic. Those in the frontispiece of Nero at Rome consist of two plain faces separated by a small cyma reversa, and crowned with an ovolo and bead. In the frieze of the fourth order of the Coliseum, the modillions are cut in the form of a cyma reversa.


(Lat.) The proportion of the different parts of an order.


(Lat.) A measure which may be taken at pleasure to regulate the proportions of an order, or the disposition of the whole building. Hie diameter or semi-diameter of the column at the bottom of the shaft has usually been selected by architects as their module; and this they subdivide into parts or minutes.

Vignola has divided his module, which is a semi-diameter, into 12 parts for the Tuscan and Doric, and into 18 for the other orders. The module of Palladio, Cambray, Desgodetz, Le Clerc, and others, is divided into 30 parts or minutes in all the orders. Some have divided the whole height of the column into 20 parts for tbe Doric, 22 for the Ionic, 25 for the Corinthian,etc. One whereof is taken for the module by which the other parts are to be regulated. There are two ways by which the measures or proportions of buildings may be detemined. First, by a constant standard measure, which is commonly the diameter of the lower part of the column, termed a module, and subdivided into sixty parts called minutes. In the second there are no minutes, nor any certain or stated divisions of the module, but it is divided into as many parts as may be deemed requisite. Thus the height of the Attic base, which is half the module, is divided into three to obtain the height of the plinth, or into four for that of the greater torus, or into six for that of the lesser torus. Both these species of measurement have been used by ancient as well as modern architects, but the latter was that chiefly used by the ancients, and was preferred by Perrault. Vitruvius having lessened his module in the Doric order, which in the other orders is the diameter of the lower part of the column, and having reduced the great module to a mean one, which is a semi-diameter, Perrault reduces the module to a third part for a similar reason, namely, that of determining the different measurements without a fraction. Thus, in the Doric order, besides that the height of tbe base, as in the other orders, is determined by one of these mean modules, that same module furnishes the height of the capital, architrave, triglyphs, and metopae. But the smaller module obtained from a third of the diameter of the lower part of the column has uses considerably more extensive, inasmuch as by it tbe heights of pedestals, of columns, and entablatures in all the orders may be obtained without a fraction


A term in relation to elastic bodies, which expresses the weight of themselves continued, which would draw them to a certain length without destroying their elastic power.


(Sax.) A pier of stone for the shelter of ships from the action of the waves. Amongst the Romans the term was applied, as in tbe case of the mole of Adrian (castle of St Angelo at Rome), to a kind of circular mausoleum. Momentum. (Lat.) The impetus, force, or quantity of motion in a moving body. The word is sometimes used simply for the motion itself.


A house for the reception of religious devotees, but more properly applied to one for the habitation of monks.



A work consisting of a single stone; such works are found in many parts of the world.


(Gr.) A species of temple of around form, which had neither walls nor cella, but only a cupola sustained by columns.


(Gr.) A term applied to an intercolumniation in which only one triglyph and two metopea are introduced.


(Lat Moneo.) A structure raised to perpetuate tbe memory of some eminent person, or to serve as a durable token of some extraordinary event

Monuments at first consisted of stones built over tbe graves of tbe dead, on which were engraved tbe name and frequently a description of the actions of the persons whose memory they are to record. Monuments were differently formed. Thus some are pyramids, others obelisks; in some cases a square stone, in others a circular column serves the purpose.


A species of granite found in Cornwall and some other parts of England, and very serviceable in the coarser parts of a building. Its colours are chiefly black and white, and it is very coarse. In some parts of Ireland immense beds of it are found.


The style of building peculiar to the Moors and Arabs. The word Moresque is also applied to a kind of painting in that style used by tbe Moors. It consists in many grotesque pieces and compartments, promiscuously, to appearance, put together, but without any perfect figure of man or animal. The style is sometimes called Arabesque.


(Dutch, Morter.) Hie calcareous cement used in building, compounded of burnt limestone and sand.


(Fr. Mortoise, probably from tbe Latin Mordeo, to bite.) In carpentry and joinery, a recessed cutting within the surface of a piece of timber, to receive a projecting piece called a tenon, left on the end of another piece of timber, in order to fix the two together at a given angle. The sides of the mortice are generally four planes at right angles to each other and to the surface, whence the excavation is made.


(It Mosaico.) A mode of representing objects by the inlaying of small cubes of glass, stone, marble, shells, wood, etc. It was a species of work much in repute among the ancients, as may be gathered from tbe numerous remains of it It is supposed to have originated in the east, and to have been brought from Phoenicia to Greece, and thence carried to Rome. The term Mosaic work is distinguished from marquetry by being only applied properly to works of stone, metal, or glass. The art continues to be practised in Italy at the present day with great success.


(Turk. Moschet.) A Mohammedan temple or place of worship. The earliest Arabian mosques were decorated with ranges of a vast number of columns, often belong¬ing originally to other buildings. Those of the Turks, on the other hand, are more distinguished for the size and elevation of their principal cupolas. Each mosque is provided with a minaret, and commonly with a fountain of water, with numerous basins for ablutions.


A term used to signify a pattern or contour by which any work is to be wrought. The glazier's moulds are of two sorts, one whereof is used for casting the lead into long rods or carnet, fit for drawing through the vice in which the grooves are formed. This they sometimes call the ingot mould. The other is for moulding the small pieces of lead, a line thick and two lines broad, which are fastened to the iron bars of casements. The maton't mouldy also called caliber, is a piece of hard wood or iron, hollowed on the edge, answering to the contours of the mouldings or cornices to be formed. The ends or heading joints being formed as in a cornice by means of the mould, tbe intermediate parts are wrought down by straight-edges, or circular templets, as the work is straight or circular on the plan. When the intended surface is required to be very exact, a reverse mould is used, in order to prove the work, by applying the mould in a transverse direction of the arrises.


among plumbers, are the tables on which they cast their sheets of lead, and are simply called tablet. They have others for casting pipes without soldering.


The ornamental contours or forms applied to the edges of the projecting or receding members of an order. Hie regular mouldings are the fillet, listel, or annulet; the astragal, or bead; tbe torus, the tecotia, or trochilus; the echinus, ovolo, or quarter- round ; the cyma reverta, inverted cyma, or ogee; the cyma recta, the cavetto.

Mouldings are divided into two classes — Grecian and Roman The first are formed by some conic section, as a portion of an ellipse or hyperbola, and sometimes even of a straight line in the form of a chamfer. The Roman mouldings are formed by arcs of circles, tbe same moulding having the same curvature throughout. For Norman mouldings,



In pointed architecture, the vertical post or bar which divides a window into several lights.

Muniment House

A strong, properly fire-proof, apartment In public or private buildings, for the keeping and preservation of evidences, charters, seals, etc., called muniments.


Belonging to a wall. Thus a monumental tablet affixed to a wall is called a mural monument; an arch inserted into or attached to a wall is called a mural arch and columns placed within or against a wall are called mural columns.


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