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stair. Series of treads and risers, the two making a step, in a flight of stairs, usually enclosed in a structure or cage (staircase), providing access from one storey or floor to another. Common parts of a stair are:baluster: one of a series of upright supports for a handrail, also providing protection, and also called banister (i, j);balustrade: ensemble including the balusters, handrail, and newels, also called banisters, providing a barrier at the side and a grip for those ascending or descending (i, j);cap: top of a newel (i);drop: lower end of a newel if visible (i);easing: junction between strings when the flight changes direction;flight: series of steps between landings, or from floor to floor, or from floor to landing;going or run: of a step, horizontal distance between two risers, and of a flight, horizontal distance between the faces of the top and bottom riser;half-space: landing the width of two parallel flights, one going up and the other down, involving a turn of 180° (see pace (3)) (c);headroom: vertical distance from the line of the nosings to the soffit of the flight over;landing: small floor between flights (c, d, e, g, i);line of the nosings: line drawn through the extremities of all the nosings, so parallel to the string;newel: central pier of a circular stair carrying the narrower ends of each wedge-shaped step, or upright member supporting the bearer, handrail, string, and trimmer at the end of a flight (i);nosing: projecting front edge of a tread, often rounded, overhanging the riser (i);pitch: angle formed by the line of the nosings and a horizontal;quarter-space: landing half the size of a half-space, where flights are set at 90° to each other (see pace) (d, e);rise: vertical dimension between the tops of consecutive treads, or between floors, or between landings, or between floor and landing, defined as rise of a step or rise of a flight;riser: face of a step, sometimes sloping back to the tread under it (thus increasing the size of the tread) (i);scotia: concave moulding beneath the nosing (i);soffit: sloping surface under a flight;spandrel: triangular figure formed between string and floor;string: inclined support for the steps, really a raking beam (i);tread: horizontal upper surface of a step (i);tread-end: smaller dimension of a tread projecting over the string in a cut-string stair, often with a carved console- or modillion-like bracket below (j);well: void between the outer strings of flights, or the volume within which the stair rises, its inner strings against the walls of the well, as in a half-turn stair (d, e);winder: tread wider at one end than the other, used when a stair turns(a, b, d, f ).Types of stair include:bifurcated: dividing into two flights or branches;closed-string: with strings from which rise identical balusters, the rake being parallel to the handrail (i);cockle: see winding below;cut- or open-string: with strings notched to accommodate the treads from which balusters of differing lengths rise, the tread-ends not being parallel to the handrail, and often having decorative console-like ornaments under them (j);dog-leg: two parallel flights, each rising half a storey, with a half-landing joining them but no well between the strings (c);double-return: stair starting with one flight and returning in two from a landing (g);flying: with stone steps cantilevered from the stair-well wall without newels at the angles or turning points, each step resting on that below. Handrails are usually joined by means of short curved portions called wreaths (f, h);geometrical: flying stair, usually circular or elliptical on plan, the ends of the cantilevered steps forming a curve (f, h);half-turn: stair with flights on three sides of the stair-well with landings at the corners (e);Imperial: starts with one straight flight, and then, after the landing, turning by 180°, with two flights parallel to the first flight, leading to the upper floor. It probably first occurred at the Escorial, near Madrid (1563–84), and spectacular later examples include the staircases at Schloss Brühl (1740s) and the Residenz, Würzburg (1734) (g);newel: circular stair winding around a solid central pier or newel which carries the narrower ends of the steps (a), or a rectangular stair with newels at the angles to receive the ends of the strings (i);open-newel: half-turn or other stair around a well, as distinguished from a dog-leg (d, e);open-riser: with no risers; the space between treads left open;open-well: resembling a dog-leg but with a gap or well between the outer strings, more especially with a larger well, each flight terminating in a quarter-landingvperron: unenclosed flight of external steps before vice: see winding below; the entrance to a piano-nobile level, or the well: within a well rising through more than one balcony-landing at the top of a double flight storey, with newel-posts forming an open well, as of steps meeting at each end of such a landing; in a half-turn stair (d, e, f );spiral: see winding below; winder: in timber-framed buildings rising upstraight-flight: with one flight; one storey, occupying a rectangular space, theturngrece: see winding below; top steps winders;turning: with flights of different directions, so winding: any circular or elliptical stair, especially including bifurcated, half-turn, quarter-turn, and a newel stair (a).three-quarters turn stairs;turnpiece: see winding below;vice: see winding below;well: within a well rising through more than one storey, with newel-posts forming an open well, as in a half-turn stair;winder: in timber-framed buildings rising up one storey, occupying a rectangular space, the top steps winders;winding: any circular or elliptical stair, especially a newel stair.


B&M (1989);
Cd'ÉSdlR (1985);
C&G (1985);
Gambardello (1993);
W. McKay (1957
Templer (1992)

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stair / ste(ə)r/ • n. (usu. stairs) a set of steps leading from one floor of a building to another, typically inside the building: he came up the stairs. ∎  single step in such a set: the bottom stair.

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stair flight of steps OE.; coll. pl. XIV; any one of these XVI. OE. stæġer = (M)LG., (M)Du. steiger scaffolding, quay, f. Gmc. *staiʒ- *stiʒ- climb (cf. STY1). For staircase (XVII) see CASE2