Facade or Façade definition

Pronunciation key


fa•çade or fa•cade n. [French; Italian facciata < faccia L.L. facia] See FACE.

  1. Architecture. The front or face of a building facing a street or courtyard. Chiefly the term facade, is applied to classic architecture and structures of some magnitude.
  2. The principal face or front of a building, therefore used with the qualifying adjective when it refers to other faces of a building. That is, the court facade, rear facade and lateral facade. Many medieval churches have false facades, which are different in outline from the buildings themselves.
  3. The front, conspicuously visible part of an institution often designed to convey a favorable impression.
  4. The front part of anything; often used to conceal something inferior.
  5. A false, superficial, or artificial appearance.

Synonyms: mask, disguise, front, guise, pretense, veneer

Sentence example: "He maintained a facade of happiness."

Façade (of temple)
Facade on Gothic Church, Spain
Entrance on façade of Gothic church, Spain

In Architecture, this structure is usually located in the exterior or face of a building. The rear of a large or pretentious building is sometimes called the rear façade, and an edifice may have as many façades as it has architectural faces with individual treatment. Thus a Gothic cruciform church has three façades, the west, or main, front and the ends of each transept; in a Greek temple the two short gable ends are façades, whereas the two long sides are merely flanks. An elevation of the side of a building is called the lateral façade. The sides of a court or cortile are often called façades, but this is not a correct application of the term. A façade which does not conform to the section of the building behind it but rises above or extends beyond it, is called a screen façade, as in the case of many Italian churches such as the Pisa Cathedral and the Certosa at Pavia, and in such English cathedrals as those of Peterborough, and Lincoln.

Figuratively, the word can be used as a figure of speech to describe the "face" that people show other people, as opposed to what they really think or do.

Façade (of Temple)


  • Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia, ©1950
  • The New World Family Encyclopedia, ©1955
  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus, ©2004
  • Wikipedia, Facade
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