TOEFL IBT – Architecture

Vocabulary is promordial in order to improve your TOEFL score. Remember, Preparation is the key to succeed !

This vocabulary will be useful if you wish to pursue a career in architecture, for any number of English language exams you may take, or just for satisfying your curiosity. Here we will look at the most commonly used words in the field, along with their French translations.


make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose

They felt that architecture should not be an accumulation of past traditions but that it should be adapted toward the common man.



make more attractive, as by adding ornament or color

Huge paintings adorn the walls of the castle.



a curved masonry construction for spanning an opening

The widespread application of the pointed arch influenced European architecture of the Medieval period.



someone who creates plans to be used in making something

An architect usually draws blueprints of a building so that it can be built.



the extent of a two-dimensional surface within a boundary

The area of my new house is much larger than that of my old one.



small top story within a roof above the uppermost ceiling

Let’s go up to the attic and see if we can find something to use for your project.

le grenier


lowest, subordinate story of building often either entirely or partially below ground level

I don’t think you should keep that in the basement.

le sous-sol


vertical member projecting from a wall to stabilize it or to resist the lateral thrust of an arch, roof, or vault

The west tower has buttresses on it.

le contrefort


conforming to orthodox or recognized rules

Some of the most important early examples of canonic architecture are religious.



a structure which provides ventilation

The chimney should be in good repair and free of obstructions.

la cheminée


a structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below

The 11 full residential floors above have no interior structural columns.

la colonne


make more attractive, as by adding ornament or color

Many architects felt that buildings had become overly decorated and burdened with various styles that they could no longer be honest to the function.



someone who creates plans to be used in making something

Many notable artists, designers, and architects taught at the Bauhaus such as Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Walter Gropius.

le designer


a structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface

The roof is pierced by dormers, also a later alteration.

la lucarne


a representation of forms or objects on a surface by means of lines

Documentation produced by architects, typically drawings, defines the structure and/or behavior of a building or any other kind of system that is to be or has been constructed.

le dessin


a structure that has a roof and walls

Architecture was the “art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by men… that the sight of them” contributes “to his mental health, power, and pleasure.”



skillfulness due to possessing special knowledge

Starting in the 1980s and into the new millennium, the field of architecture saw the rise of specializations for each project type, technological expertise, or project delivery methods.

la compétence


a triangular portion of an end wall between the edges of a sloping roof

A round-topped window nestled in the gable above it.

le pignon


a freestanding pavilion structure often found in parks, gardens, and public areas

Classes took place at the kitchen counter or in the gazebo.

le belvédère

Gothic architecture

a style of architecture developed in northern France that spread throughout Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries; characterized by slender vertical piers and counterbalancing buttresses and by vaulting and pointed arches

Gothic architecture, Pugin believed, was the only “true Christian form of architecture.”

l’architecture gothique


a building of many stories equipped with elevators

Unlike Paris, Manhattan is known for its large quantity of high-rises.

le gratte-ciel


in Islamic architecture, a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of prayer

No mosque with a minaret has yet been permitted in Denmark.

le minaret

pointed arch

an arch with a pointed apex

The widespread application of the pointed arch was to influence European architecture of the Medieval period.

l’arche pointue


genre of art and literature and especially architecture in reaction against principles and practices of established modernism

Postmodernism developed as a reaction against the austerity of modernism.

le postmodernisme


a large and high circular hall or room in a building, usually but not always surmounted by a dome

She was inaugurated in the rotunda of the Hawaii State Capital.

la rotonde


a tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building

Beneath the spire is a 1,600-seat sanctuary.

la flèche


a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle

The turret’s rounded shape helped to deflect the cannon shot.

la tourelle

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