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newel

[noo-uh l, nyoo-] /ˈnu əl, ˈnyu-/
noun
2.
a central pillar or upright from which the steps of a winding stair radiate.
3.
(on an escalator) the horizontal section of railing at the upper or lower end.
Origin
1325-1375
1325-75; earlier nuel, Middle English nowel < Middle French no(u)el kernel, newel < Late Latin *nucāle, noun use of neuter of nucālis of a nut, nutlike, equivalent to Latin nuc- (stem of nux) nut + -ālis -al1
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for newel
  • Ends shall be returned of shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals.
  • The interior features a narrow, open string staircase with simple round balusters and newel posts.
  • The staircase which winds up before the chimney in the entry has its original newel post and turned oaken balusters.
  • Ends shall be returned or terminated in newel posts or safety terminals.
  • The staircase and newel post are walnut, constructed off-site.
  • Ends of handrails are to be returned to the wall or terminated in newel posts.
  • They shall be continuous for the full length of the stairs and the ends shall be returned or terminate in newel posts.
  • The original stairs, newel posts, balustrades and wood floors are extant.
  • Handrail ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals.
  • The stairs have plain balusters and a sweeping, rounded handrail unhindered by any newel posts.
British Dictionary definitions for newel

newel

/ˈnjuːəl/
noun
1.
the central pillar of a winding staircase, esp one that is made of stone
2.
Word Origin
C14: from Old French nouel knob, from Medieval Latin nōdellus, diminutive of nōdusnode
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 newel
n.

mid-14c., "pillar from which steps of a winding staircase radiate," from Old French noel, novel "knob, newel, kernel, stone" (Modern French noyau), from Vulgar Latin *nodellus "little knot," diminutive of Latin nodulus, diminutive of nodus "knot" (see net (n.)). Klein's sources suggest the French word may be from Gallo-Romance *nucale, from Latin nux "nut." The meaning "post at the top or bottom of a staircase" is from 1833.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for newel

upright post rising at the foot of a stairway, at its landings, or at its top. These posts usually serve as anchors for handrails. Often the stringboards, which cover and connect the ends of the steps, are framed into the newels. Made of the same substance as the stairway itself-wood, stone, or metal-the newel may be simple and functional, as in most contemporary examples, or highly ornamental, as in the Elizabethan or Jacobean styles.

Learn more about newel with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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