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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Lunette \Lu*nette"\, n. [F., dim. of lune moon, L. luna. See Lune a crescent.]

  1. (Fort.) A fieldwork consisting of two faces, forming a salient angle, and two parallel flanks. See Bastion.

  2. (Far.) A half horseshoe, which lacks the sponge.

  3. A kind of watch crystal which is more than ordinarily flattened in the center; also, a species of convexoconcave lens for spectacles.

  4. A piece of felt to cover the eye of a vicious horse.

  5. (Arch.) Any surface of semicircular or segmental form; especially, the piece of wall between the curves of a vault and its springing line.

  6. An iron shoe at the end of the stock of a gun carriage.

    Lunette window (Arch.), a window which fills or partly fills a lunette.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1570s, "semi-circular horseshoe," from Middle French lunette (13c.), literally "little moon," diminutive of lune "moon," from Latin luna (see luna). Later applied to a wide range of objects and ornamentations resembling a crescent moon.


n. (context architecture English) A small opening in a vaulted roof of a circular or crescent shape. (from 17th c.)

  1. n. temporary fortification like a detached bastion

  2. oval or circular opening; to allow light into a dome or vault [syn: fenestella]


In architecture, a lunette (French lunette, "little moon") is a half-moon shaped space, either filled with recessed masonry or void. A lunette is formed when a horizontal cornice transects a round-headed arch at the level of the imposts, where the arch springs. If a door is set within a round-headed arch, the space within the arch above the door, masonry or glass, is a lunette. If the door is a major access, and the lunette above is massive and deeply set, it may be called a tympanum.

The term is usefully employed to describe the section of interior wall between the curves of a vault and its springing line. A system of intersecting vaults produces lunettes on the wall surfaces above a cornice. The lunettes in the structure of the Sistine Chapel inspired Michelangelo to come up with inventive compositions for the spaces.

In neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam and his French contemporaries, like Ange-Jacques Gabriel, a favorite scheme set a series of windows within shallow blind arches. The lunettes above lent themselves to radiating motifs: a sunburst of bellflower husks, radiating fluting, a low vase of flowers, etc.

A lunette may also be segmental, and the arch may be an arc taken from an oval. The spaces are still lunettes.

A lunette is commonly called a half-moon window, when the space is used as a window.

Lunette (disambiguation)

A lunette is a moon-shaped architectural detail.

Lunette may also refer to:

  • Lunette (fortification), an outwork consisting of a salient angle with two flanks and an open gorge
  • Lunette (Gargoyles), a fictional character in the animated television series "Gargoyles"
  • Lunette (geology), a wind-formed crescent dune shape
  • Lunette (stele), the curved top region of a stele (pillar-shaped monument), especially from ancient Egypt
  • Lunette Peak, a mountain on the border of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia
  • Pyx, also called a lunette, a small enclosure for the Eucharistic host in the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic churches
  • Musée des Lunettes et Lorgnettes Pierre Marly, a museum of eyeglasses in Paris
Lunette (fortification)

In fortification, a lunette was originally an outwork of half-moon shape; later it became a redan with short flanks, in trace somewhat resembling a bastion standing by itself without curtains on either side. The gorge was generally open.

One notable historical example of a lunette was the one used at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, in March 1836. Another were the Bagration flèches, at the Battle of Borodino, in 1812.

Lunette (stele)

The lunette spatial region in the upper portion of stelas, became common for steles as a prelude to a stele's topic. Its major use was from ancient Egypt in all the various categories of steles: funerary, Victory Steles, autobiographical, temple, votive, etc.

The lunettes are most common from ancient Egyptian steles, as not only is the topic of the stele presented, but honorific gods, presenters, individuals, etc. are previewed, and often with Egyptian hieroglyphic statements.

The main body of the stele is then presented below, often separated with a horizontal line ( register), but not always. In Egyptian steles, many have horizontal lines of hieroglyphs; often the lunette will contain shorter vertical statements in hieroglyphs, sometimes just names of the individuals portrayed, hieroglyphs in front, or behind the individual.

Usage examples of "lunette".

Lalouette, ayant mis le coton dans leurs oreilles et les lunettes bleues sur le nez, attendaient.

They leaned him over the trestle and opened wide the fitted form of the lunette into which the brank just fit.

A la tombee du jour, il grimpait les degres, ayant sous chaque bras une boite longue et noire, qui renfermait, assurement, les lunettes et les mineraux.

A smaller fort, mounting five guns, was built at the northwest corner, and at the northeast and southeast corners were small lunettes, with a couple of howitzers each.

Then it was refurbished and rebuilt, with thick stone walls that met at the corners of rooms in graceful arches called lunettes, with floors of brick laid out in herringbone patterns, with intricate wooden ceilings and wide windows that were shuttered, barred, and set so low they seemed to kneel into the street.

Abruptly, with a lightning velocity, these broadenings expanded into immense lunettes, two tremendous curving and crablike claws.

Sticking out of a crescent-shaped sand ridge of a type known as a lunette were some human bones.