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or bannister

[ban-uh-ster] /ˈbæn ə stər/
a baluster.
Sometimes, banisters. the balustrade of a staircase.
Origin of banister
1660-70; apparently by dissimilation from earlier barrister, alteration of baluster, perhaps by association with bar1
Can be confused
baluster, balustrade, banister. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for banisters
Historical Examples
  • He was coming downstairs with quaking legs; his face was ashen white, and he leaned heavily on the banisters.

  • The girl, under a spell of the Dead Man's will, came out to the banisters.

  • Lindsay closed the door behind him without replying, and half-way down the stairs her voice appealed to him over the banisters.

    The Path of a Star Mrs. Everard Cotes (AKA Sara Jeannette Duncan)
  • It sounds just like—like—oh, like sliding down the banisters.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • Maxfield stopped, hesitatingly, with his hand on the banisters at the top of the landing.

    A Charming Fellow, Volume II (of 3) Frances Eleanor Trollope
  • Daisy saw her feebly ascend the stairs, clutching the banisters.

    A Coin of Edward VII Fergus Hume
  • I could not wait till he had reached me, but called out over the banisters, 'Well?

    Alas! Rhoda Broughton
  • His little daughter was standing up there with one hand on the banisters.

    Five Tales John Galsworthy
  • Myra commenced mounting the stairs, but turned on the fifth step and hung over the banisters to smile at him.

    The Mistress of Shenstone Florence L. Barclay
  • Dick and Marjorie hurried down and leaned over the banisters too.

British Dictionary definitions for banisters


plural noun
the railing and supporting balusters on a staircase; balustrade
Word Origin
C17: altered from baluster
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for banisters



1660s, unexplained corruption of baluster. As late as 1830 condemned as "vulgar," it is now accepted. Surname Bannister is from Old French banastre "basket," hence, "basket-maker."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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