Gargoyle or grotesque

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Gargoyle and grotesque are architectural features that are very similar, but are different in a subtle way. We will examine the definitions of gargoyle and grotesque, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A gargoyle is a carved animal or human attached to a building that acts as a water spout. Directing the water away from the walls of a building counteracts erosion. The longer the water spout, the farther away from the building the water is directed. Gargoyles are most often associated with medieval cathedrals. The word gargoyle is derived from the Old French word gargouille, which means throat. This refers to the water moving through the spout or throat of the figure. The word gargoyle is also used figuratively to mean an excessively ugly person.

A grotesque is a carved animal or human attached to a building that is merely decorative and does not serve any other function. Grotesques are found on churches and other buildings such as university halls. The word grotesque generally means something that is distorted to an appalling degree, a charicature. Grotesque is derived from the Italian word grottegargoysco, which means of the cave. This refers to paintings found in Roman ruins.


The gargoyle discharges into a long black steel trough that, if a switch is flicked, then overflows via concealed pipework in such a way that water starts rising through the joints between dark granite paving in a small courtyard. (The Guardian)

Basically, the opposite of the stuff you’d see your therapist or the gargoyle who taught your college history class wearing. (GQ Magazine)

It’s the grotesques that he most enjoys making, because each of them, whether frightful demon or forgotten cathedral pooh-bah, is unique and characterful: and make them he does because, very often, the masonry needs replacement rather than repair. (The Telegraph)