AskDefine | Define lintel

Dictionary Definition

lintel n : horizontal beam used as a finishing piece over a door or window [syn: header]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Middle English lyntel, from Middle French lintel, from Latin limitaris'' ("indicating a boundary").


  • /ˈlɪn.təl/, /"lIn.t@l/
  • Rhymes: -ɪntəl


  1. A horizontal structural beam spanning an opening, such as between the uprights of a door or a window, and which supports the wall.


Extensive Definition

For lintel as a decorative element see Lintel (architecture)
For beam as load-bearing member see beam
Post and lintel (synonimous with Post and beam and also called an Architrave ) is a simple construction technique, also called "post and beam", where a horizontal member (the lintel—or header) is supported by two vertical posts at either end. This very simple form is commonly used to support the weight of the structure located above the openings in a bearing wall created by windows and doors.
The biggest disadvantages to this type of construction is the limited weight that can be held up, and the small distances required between the posts. Roman developments of the arch allowed for much larger structures to be constructed.
There are two main forces vectors acting upon the post and lintel system: weight carrying compression at the joint between lintel and post, and tension induced by deformation of self-weight and the load above between the posts. The two posts are under compression from the weight of the lintel (or beam) above. The underside of the lintel is under tension, and will deform concave up while the topside is under compression.


A lintel or header is a horizontal beam used in the construction of buildings, and is a major architectural contribution of ancient Greece. It usually supports the masonry above a window or door opening. (Also sometimes spelled 'lintol', 'lintil',' lyntil'.)
Lintels may be made of wood, stone, steel or reinforced or pre tensioned concrete.
For example, at Stonehenge, stone lintels top off some of the megaliths. In typical homes today, lintels are commonly used in fireplaces where one will span the opening of the firebox. In this use they are most often steel, either straight for a square opening or arched for a more decorative effect.


In architecture, a trabeated system or order (from Latin trabs, beam; influenced by trabeatus, clothed in the trabea, a ritual garment) refers to the use of horizontal beams or lintels which are borne up by columns or posts. It is the opposite of the arcuated system, which involves the use of arches.
The trabeated system is a fundamental principle of Neolithic architecture, Ancient Greek architecture and Ancient Egyptian architecture. Other trabeated styles are the Persian, Lycian, nearly all the Indian styles, the Chinese, Japanese and South American styles.
A noteworthy example of a trabeated system is in Volubilis, from the Roman era, where one side of the Decumanus Maximus is lined with trabeated elements, while the opposite side of the roadway is designed in arched style.
In India the style was used origninally for wooden constructions, but later the technique was adopted for stone structures for decorative rather than load-bearing purposes.

See also


lintel in German: Sturz (Architektur)
lintel in Spanish: dintel
lintel in French: Linteau (architecture)
lintel in Dutch: Latei
lintel in Polish: Nadproże
lintel in Portuguese: Lintel
lintel in Russian: Притолока

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

French door, archway, back door, barway, bulkhead, carriage entrance, cellar door, cellarway, door, doorjamb, doorpost, doorway, front door, gate, gatepost, gateway, hatch, hatchway, porch, portal, porte cochere, postern, propylaeum, pylon, scuttle, side door, stile, storm door, threshold, tollgate, trap, trap door, turnpike, turnstile
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1