Civil Engineering Terms and Definitions

Some of the basic Civil Engineering Terms and Definitions are listed below,

Arcade : A series of arches with their supporting columns or piers.

Arris : The meeting of two surfaces producing an external angle.

Base: Base is immediately above plinth. A building having no plinth, immediately above footings.

Basement or Basement Storey or Cellar : Part of a building (usually a storey) below ground level,

Bat: Part of a brick.

Baiter : The slope away from you of a wall or timber piece, etc.

Bay : The space between two piers, columns or projections.

Bay window: A window projecting outward from a wall and reaching up to the ground.

Bevel: Any inclination of two surfaces other than 90 deg. (either greater or less),

Blocking Course : A course of stones (or only one stone) placed on the top of a course to add to its appearance and also to prevent the cornice from overturning.

Bressummer : Joist embedded in concrete; beam over verandah posts on which purlins of sloping roofs rest. Also means a beam which carries a wall.

Brick core : Brickwork filled in between the top of a lintel and the soffit of a relieving arch.

Brick flogging: Brickwork filled in between wooden posts or studs (for making a wall).

Bull’s eye : A circular or oval opening in a wall.

Buttress: A projection of masonry built into the front of the wall to strengthen it for lateral stability against thrust from an arch, roof, or wind pressure.

Flying Buttress : A detached buttress or pier of masonry at some distance from a wall, and connected therewith by an arch or portion of an arch, so as to discharge the thrust of roof or vault, on some strong point.

Chamfer: To cut off, in a small degree, the angle or arris formed by two faces, usually at an angle of 45 deg.

Chase : A recess made inside of a wall to accommodate pipes or electric Wiring, etc.

Composite Building : A building of which part is masonry and part is either open or framed ; or a building of which part is open building and part is framed building. .

Coping: The capping or covering placed upon the exposed top of a wall (or parapet), usually of stone, to throw off and prevent the rain-water soaking in to it.

Corbel: One or more courses of brick projecting from a wall like a cornice), generally to form a support for wall plates, etc. A brick should not project more than 1/4 beyond the lower course.

Counterfort: Is a projection of masonry built into the back of the wall.

Cowl: A hood shaped top for a chimney; a ventilating top of a sewage pipe. .

Cross Wall: An internal weight bearing wall built into another wall to the full height thereof.

Dormer Window : A small vertical window built in a sloping roof.

Dowel: A pin or peg let into two pieces of stone or wood for joining them ; a cramp iron.

Drip : Part of a cornice or projecting sill etc., which has a projection beyond other parts for throwing off rain-water.

Efflorescence: The formation of a whitish loose powder or crust, on the surface of brick walls. .

Extrados: The outer surface of an arch.

Frog: Is a small recess on the top surface of a brick, made while moulding, usually embossed with the initials of the contractor. It forms a key for the mortar and also reduces the weight of the brick.

Gable : The entire end wall of a building. (The term is generally used for the triangular end wall of a sloping roof.)

Haunch : That part of an arch lying midway between the springing and the crown.

Herring-bone work: Masonry work (generally in floors) in which the bricks are laid slanting in opposite directions. .

Hydroscopic: A substance that attracts water from the air.

Intrados: The inner surface of an arch.

Lambs : The two sides of doors, windows or other openings between the back of a  and, the chowkat or frame. The portions of the openings outside the frame are called Reveals.

Joggle : A dowel or stub tennon joint by means of which one piece of stone or timber is fitted to another.

Keystone : The uppermost or central voussoir of an arch.

King closer: A brick cut lengthwise so that one end is nearly half the width of the other, They are used in the construction of jambs.

Lobby : An open space surrounding a range of chambers, or seats in a theatre ; a small hall or waiting room.

Mantel: The facing and shelf (usually ornamental) above a fire place.

Mastic : A preparation of bitumen used for water proofing and damp proofing, etc.

Mat finish : A term applied to surface finishing (generally painting) which is free from gloss or polish (not shining),

Mezzanine floor : An additional (low storey) floor, gallery or balcony erected between the floor and ceiling of any storey.

Mosaic : Small pieces of stones, glass,. etc. (generally of different colours) laid in cement mortar to form artistic patterns for flooring and dados, etc.

Mullion : An upright (piece) in any framing ; a division piece between the sash of a frame.

Oriel Window: An upper storey window projecting outward from a wall (and which does not reach up to the ground, as distinguished from a bay-window).

Party Wall: A wall erected on a line between adjoining property owners and used in common.

Pedestal: A base or support, as for a column or statue, and generally of a bigger size.

Pilaster : A right-angled column or projection from a pier or wall; a square pillar made generally to support a concentrated load.

Pillar : A detached vertical support to some structure; a solid portion of a wall between window openings and other voids.

Plinth : The portion of the external wall between the level of the street and the level of the floor first above the street.

Queen closer: A brick cut lengthwise into two so that each piece is half as wide as the full brick.

Quoin brick : A brick forming a corner in brickwork ; it has one end and one side exposed to view.

Recs: A depth in the thickness of a wall.

Refractory materials : The term “refractory” is applied to various heat resisting materials such as, lire-bricks, furnace linings.

Reveal: A vertical side of a window or door opening from the face of the wall to the frame. (See lambs).

Skew-back: That (inclined) part of a pier or abutment from which an arch springs.

Sleeper Walls : Low walls erected at intervals between the main walls to provide intermediate supports to the lowest floor.

Soup header :A brick header not extending the full length of a brick into a wall, usually half a brick.

Soffit : The lower horizontal face of anything ; the under face of an arch where its thickness is seen.

Spall:  Bat or broken brick; stone chips,

Spandrel or Spandril: The space between the top of a masonry arch and the roof, beam or carriageway, etc.

Spandrel Wall : A wall built upon the extrados of an arch up to the top level of the roof or beam, etc.

Splay: An oblique surface (bevel or chamfered), as of the jambs of a doorway or Window ; of which one side makes an oblique angle with the other.

Springing line : A line of intersection between the intrados and the supports of an arch.

Spring points: The points from which the curve of an arch springs.

Springer: The voussoir placed next to the skew-back in an arch.

Squint Bricks: Bricks used for forming acute or obtuse corners in brick masonry.

Striking : The releasing or lowering of centering of arches or lintels.

String course :. A horizontal (usually ornamental) course projecting along the face of a building (usually introduced at every floor level or under Windows or below parapets) for imparting architectural appearance to the structure and also keeping off the rain water.

Throating:  Term used for making a channel or groove on the under side of string courses copings, cornices or sun-shades, etc., to prevent rain water from running inside towards the walls.

Underpinning : The process of supporting the. existing structure for renewing or repairing the lower Walls or foundations.

Vault : An arched masonry structure (with series of arches).

Veneered Wall: In a wall in which the facing material is merely attached to and nor properly bonded into the backing.

Voussoir : The wedge shaped structure component of a stone arch.

Weathering: Action of sun and rain on structures or soils.

The Civil Engineering terms and definitions will be updated regularly.

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