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[gey-buh l] /ˈgeɪ bəl/
noun, Architecture
the portion of the front or side of a building enclosed by or masking the end of a pitched roof.
a decorative member suggesting a gable, used especially in Gothic architecture.
Also called gable wall. a wall bearing a gable.
Origin of gable
1325-75; Middle English < Old French (of Germanic orig.); cognate with Old Norse gafl; compare Old English gafol, geafel a fork
Related forms
gablelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for gables


the triangular upper part of a wall between the sloping ends of a pitched roof (gable roof)
a triangular ornamental feature in the form of a gable, esp as used over a door or window
the triangular wall on both ends of a gambrel roof
Derived Forms
gabled, adjective
gable-like, adjective
Word Origin
C14: Old French gable, probably from Old Norse gafl; related to Old English geafol fork, Old High German gibil gable


(William) Clark. 1901–60, US film actor. His films include It Happened One Night (1934), San Francisco (1936), Gone with the Wind (1939), Mogambo (1953), and The Misfits (1960)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for gables



mid-14c., from Old French gable "facade, front, gable," from Old Norse gafl "gable, gable-end" (in north of England, the word is probably directly from Norse), probably from Proto-Germanic *gablaz "top of a pitched roof" (cf. Middle Dutch ghevel, Dutch gevel, Old High German gibil, German Geibel, Gothic gibla "gable"), from PIE *ghebhel.

Cognates seem to be words meaning both "fork" (cf. Old English gafol, geafel, Old Saxon gafala, Dutch gaffel, Old High German gabala "pitchfork," German Gabel "fork;" Old Irish gabul "forked twig") and "head" (cf. Old High German gibilla, Old Saxon gibillia "skull").

Possibly the primitive meaning of the words may have been 'top', 'vertex'; this may have given rise to the sense of 'gable', and this latter to the sense of 'fork', a gable being originally formed by two pieces of timber crossed at the top supporting the end of the roof-tree." [OED]
Related: Gabled; gables.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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