Noun > Edifice

Noun – Edifice

This word has Latin roots that mean “making a temple” or “making a house.”

Strictly speaking, an edifice is a building that’s large and impressive, such as a church or a palace.

And more loosely speaking, an edifice is anything that seems so large, so impressive, and so solid and permanent that it reminds you of a grand building.

ED ih fiss

Part of speech:
Noun, the countable kind: “this edifice,” “these edifices,” “that looming edifice.”

Other forms:
edifices, edificial

How to use it:
This word is formal and common.

You might use it literally to call attention to the impressive vastness or beauty of some building. Here’s the New York Times: “Open-air mosques were replaced by marble, domed edifices.”

Or, you might use it figuratively. Call something “the edifice of” whatever it is: the edifice of tax law, the edifice of Greek life on campus, the entire edifice of professional sports, this shimmering edifice of the cosmetics industry.

When you do this–when you call something abstract an edifice–you’re comparing it to a huge building, so you can keep that metaphor going by talking about an edifice built on such-and-such, an edifice being constructed, an edifice about to crumble or be demolished, etc.

“Much of the city [of London] lay in ruins, a ragged collection of gaps and edifices, like a child’s mouth after a lost tooth.”
— Sarah Rose, D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II, 2019

“Freud, we need to realize, created the most ingenious and thoroughgoing pseudoscience ever devised… And are [fans of Freud] prepared to contemplate the likelihood that the whole Freudian edifice was a house of cards?”
— Frederick Crews, as quoted by John Horgan, Scientific American, 12 June 2019

“The advertising industry — and therefore the industries it supports, like the media — is predicated on the idea that if you’ve heard of something and have a positive association with it, you’re more likely to buy the product… But the base assumption that the whole edifice is built on is becoming unstable, because what happens when society’s attention is entirely monopolized?”
— Bijan Stephen, The Verge, 3 March 2019