newel

[noo-uhl, nyoo-]
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:
1325–75; 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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Collins
World English Dictionary
newel (ˈnjuːəl)
 
n
1.  the central pillar of a winding staircase, esp one that is made of stone
2.  See newel post
 
[C14: from Old French nouel knob, from Medieval Latin nōdellus, diminutive of nōdusnode]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

newel
mid-14c., "pillar from which steps of a winding staircase radiate," from O.Fr. noel, novel "knob, newel, kernel, stone," from V.L. *nodellus "little knot," dim. of L. nodulus, dim. of nodus "knot." Or the O.Fr. word may be from Gallo-Romance *nucale, from L. 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 Britannica
Encyclopedia

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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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.
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