AskDefine | Define facade

Dictionary Definition



1 the face or front of a building [syn: frontage, frontal]
2 a showy misrepresentation intended to conceal something unpleasant [syn: window dressing]

User Contributed Dictionary



façade, from facciata, a derivation of faccia, from facies; compare face

Alternative spellings


  1. The face of a building, especially the front.
    • 2005, Peter Brandvold, “Ghost Colts”, in Robert J. Randisi (ed.), Lone Star Law, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 1416514597, page 179,
      Eight or so gunmen stood shoulder to shoulder in the gray-white trail before the barn, firing into the saloon's burning, bullet-pocked facade.
  2. A deceptive outward appearance.



Dictionary notes

  • American Heritage Dictionary lists |façade as the headword, with |facade as a variant
  • Cambridge dictionary Online lists only the heading |facade, but notes |façade as an “also.”
  • Collins Word Exchange lists both spelling alternatives in the order: |façade, |facade.
  • unabridged lists both spellings under the headword |facade with |façade listed as an “also.”
  • The Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edition lists |facade as the headword, with |façade as an “also”.
  • Merriam-Webster Online lists |façade only as a variant of |facade.
  • MSN Encarta Dictionary lists both spelling alternatives in the order: |facade, |façade.
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online lists only |façade.
  • Webster’s 1828 via ARTFL lists only |facade.
  • Wordnet 3.0 lists only |facade.
  • Collins German Dictionary Complete & unabridged, 5th edition lists only |façade.
  • Collins Robert French Dictionary Complete & unabridged, 7th edition lists only |façade.
  • Collins Spanish Dictionary Complete & unabridged, 8th edition lists only |façade.
  • Diccionario Oxford Pocket Edición Latinoamericana lists only façade.
  • Larousse Gran Diccionario Inglés-Español Español-Inglés, 2nd edition lists only |facade.

Extensive Definition

A façade () alternatively spelled facade is generally one side of the exterior of a building, especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".
In architecture, the façade of a building is often the most important from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. Many facades are historic, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.

Highrise facades

In modern highrise buildings, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain walls and precast concrete walls. The facade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another.
Whether rated or not, fire protection is always a design consideration both in terms of concern for the subject building as well as for the surroundings, as falling glass can endanger pedestrians, firefighters and firehoses below. An example of this is the First Interstate Bank Fire in Los Angeles, California. The fire here leapfrogged up the tower by shattering the glass and then consuming the aluminium skeleton holding the glass. Aluminium's melting temperature is 660 °C, whereas building fires can reach 1,100 °C. The melting point of aluminium is typically reached within minutes of the start of a fire. Firestops for such building joints can be qualified to UL 2079 -- Tests for Fire Resistance of Building Joint Systems. Sprinklering of each floor has a profoundly positive effect on the fire safety of buildings with curtain walls. In the case of the aforementioned fire, it was specifically the activation of the newly installed sprinkler system, which halted the advance of the fire and allowed effective suppression.
Some building codes also limit the percentage of window area in exterior walls. When the exterior wall is not rated, the perimeter slab edge becomes a junction where rated slabs are abutting an unrated wall. For rated walls, one may also choose rated windows and fire doors, to maintain that wall's rating.

Film sets

On a film set, many of the buildings are only façades, which are far cheaper than actual buildings, and not subject to building codes. These are simply held up with supports from behind, and sometimes have boxes for actors to step in and out of from the front if necessary for a scene.
facade in Aragonese: Frontera
facade in Catalan: Façana
facade in Czech: Fasáda
facade in German: Fassade
facade in Spanish: Fachada
facade in Esperanto: Fasado
facade in French: Glossaire de l'architecture#F
facade in Italian: Facciata
facade in Dutch: Gevel
facade in Japanese: ファサード
facade in Norwegian: Fasade
facade in Polish: Fasada
facade in Portuguese: Fachada
facade in Romanian: Faţadă
facade in Russian: Фасад
facade in Finnish: Julkisivu
facade in Swedish: Fasad
facade in Turkish: Cephe (mimarlık)
facade in Ukrainian: Фасад
facade in Chinese: 立面

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acting, affectation, affectedness, airs, airs and graces, alibi, anteriority, apology, apparent character, appearance, appearances, artificiality, attitudinizing, blind, bluff, bluffing, bold front, border, brave face, brave front, cheating, circumference, cloak, color, coloring, cortex, cover, cover story, cover-up, covering, crust, deception, delusion, device, disguise, display, dissemblance, dissembling, dissimulation, envelope, epidermis, excuse, exterior, exteriors, external, external appearance, externals, face, facet, facia, fakery, faking, false air, false front, false show, falsity, feigned belief, feigning, feint, fore, forefront, foreground, forehand, foreland, forepart, forequarter, foreside, foreword, four-flushing, fraud, fringe, front, front elevation, front man, front matter, front page, front view, frontage, frontal, frontier, frontispiece, gaudiness, gilt, gloss, guise, handle, head, heading, humbug, humbuggery, hypocrisy, image, imposture, insincerity, integument, lame excuse, lap, lineaments, locus standi, mannerism, mask, masquerade, mere externals, mere show, meretriciousness, obverse, ostensible motive, ostent, ostentation, outer face, outer layer, outer side, outer skin, outline, outside, outward appearance, outward show, periphery, playacting, poor excuse, pose, posing, posture, preface, prefix, pretense, pretension, pretext, priority, proscenium, protestation, prunes and prisms, public image, public motive, put-off, put-on, putting on airs, refuge, representation, rind, screen, seeming, semblance, sham, shell, show, simulacrum, simulation, skin, smoke screen, speciousness, stalking-horse, stratagem, stylishness, subterfuge, superficiality, superficies, superstratum, surface, surface appearance, surface show, top, trick, unnaturalness, vain show, varnish, veil, veneer, window dressing
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