from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The underside of a structural component, such as a beam, arch, staircase, or cornice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The visible underside of an arch, balcony, beam, cornice, staircase, vault or any other architectural element.
  • n. The top point of the inside open section of a pipe or box conduit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The under side of the subordinate parts and members of buildings, such as staircases, entablatures, archways, cornices, or the like. See Illust. of lintel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In architecture: The under horizontal face of an architrave between columns
  • n. The lower surface of an arch.
  • n. The ceiling of a room, when divided by cross-beams into panels, compartments, or lacunaria.
  • n. The under face of an overhanging cornice, of a projecting balcony, an entablature, a staircase, etc.
  • n. In scenepainting, a border. See scene, 4.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the underside of a part of a building (such as an arch or overhang or beam etc.)


French soffite, from Italian soffitto, from Vulgar Latin *suffīctus, past participle of suffīgere, to fasten beneath; see suffix.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French soffite, from Italian soffitto, from sof- ("under") + past participle of figgere ("to fix"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "Interior spaces bleed freely into the gardens beyond through projections of wall, soffit and floor, while the forces of nature are freely admitted into the building through expansive apertures, in such a way as neither to render the building fully as an instrument, nor dissolve it into the landscape." (p 279)
    John Sadar (2008). The healthful ambience of Vitaglass: light, glass and the curative environment. Architectural Research Quarterly, 12 , pp 269-281

    July 26, 2009