a grotesquely carved figure of a human or animal.
a spout, terminating in a grotesque representation of a human or animal figure with open mouth, projecting from the gutter of a building for throwing rain water clear of a building.

1250–1300; Middle English gargoile < Old French gargouille, gargoule literally, throat; see gargle

gargoyled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gargoyle (ˈɡɑːɡɔɪl)
1.  a waterspout carved in the form of a grotesque face or creature and projecting from a roof gutter, esp of a Gothic church
2.  any grotesque ornament or projection, esp on a building
3.  a person with a grotesque appearance
[C15: from Old French gargouille gargoyle, throat; see gargle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"grotesque carved waterspout," 1286, from O.Fr. gargouille "throat, waterspout" (see gargle).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

gargoyle definition

A sculpture depicting grotesque human shapes or evil spirits used in many buildings of the Middle Ages, most notably on Gothic cathedrals. Some gargoyles drained rainwater, sending it clear of the walls of the building.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Be sure to walk the perimeter to glimpse the flying buttresses that support the structure as well as the famous gargoyles.
Both towers are capped by a modified cornice with decorated frieze and gargoyles.
Lion's head gargoyles are centered on the wall on each side of bays three and eight.
One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
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