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[noo-uh l, nyoo-] /ˈnu əl, ˈnyu-/
a central pillar or upright from which the steps of a winding stair radiate.
(on an escalator) the horizontal section of railing at the upper or lower end.
Origin of newel
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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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


the central pillar of a winding staircase, esp one that is made of stone
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
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Word Origin and History for newel

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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