Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
............... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

DEN till


A small rectangular block - a tooth-like cube - used in a series forming a molding under Ionic and Corinthian and sometimes Doric  cornices

"... derived originally from the ends of the squared timbers which carried the cornice of the primitive Ionic temple, and in the earlier stone examples copied more or less literally; it subsequently in the 4th century was introduced as a part of the bedmould of the cornice of  the Ionic Order..." - The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica" Mouldings (online October 2014)

Latin: "dentes" = teeth (Dentils supposedly resemble a row of teeth.)

Found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives, including Beaux Arts Classicism, Classical Revival, Federal, Georgian Revival, Greek Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire

Body Language

The Greeks were first to declare that architecture was based on the proportions and form of the human body. "Capital," for example, comes from the word "caput," or head.

In addition, dimensions were measured in terms of a human unit like the foot (piede in Italian).

Dentil molding is the exact shape  of a toothy dental smile on a jack-o'-lantern.

And need we explain the folds of a groin vault?

- The Annotated Arch, by Carol Strickland. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Pub., 2001,  p. 32

Gouged Dentil

... dentils with their vertical slits...

Doric of the Baths of Diocletian; Plate 19, Roland Fréart de Chambray, A Parallel of the Antient Architecture with the Modern (John Evelyn edition, 1664)

North piazza entablature, Monticello

- Calder Loth,  Classical Comments: The Doric of the Baths of Diocletian and its Variants (Online Oct. 2014)

Venetian Dentil

Common medieval moulding in Venice consisting of a projecting band with its upper and lower parts cut alternately into notches sloping to the middle of the band, producing the effect of a double row of staggered dentils.


Small rectangular blocks, generally separated by evenly spaced open areas

See also: Open dentil

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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