cupola/dome

  • Dmitry:

    I think the "cupola" is the little dome on top of the big dome.
    Thanks!!! OK, let us take St. Isaac's in St. Petersburg http://www.google.ru/imglanding?q=s...s=isch:1&start=0#tbnid=wXHgRvAOrgB-OM&start=1

    I have always considered it to have one big dome only. Maybe I interpret the word "dome" in wrong way, but AFAIK dome is the upper part of a building that is spherical in shape. In the picture of St. Isaac's I cannot see several domes and that is why I cannot understand what particularly both "dome" and "cupola" refer to. To make it clearer maybe you could circle the dome and the cupola in Paint or Photoshop and upload the new picture?

    Thanks!!!
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Or it refers to the inside of a dome. I think you'd find that most people in London would not use the word cupola for St. Paul's or similar cathedral type structures. They'd call it the dome. As a (not too wild) generalization, I would think that a cupola tends to be smaller than a dome. One might find a cupola on a country house as an architectural element and it would not be called a dome. Similarly a big structure, like St. Paul's, would be a dome not a cupola. The dictionaries admit to a lot of overlap.
     
    Or it refers to the inside of a dome. I think you'd find that most people in London would not use the word cupola for St. Paul's or similar cathedral type structures. They'd call it the dome. As a (not too wild) generalization, I would think that a cupola tends to be smaller than a dome. One might find a cupola on a country house as an architectural element and it would not be called a dome. Similarly a big structure, like St. Paul's, would be a dome not a cupola. The dictionaries admit to a lot of overlap.
    Thanks!!! That is a bit surprising, I must say, because I heard some BE speakers calling http://www.google.ru/imglanding?q=st...rgB-OM&start=1 the Cathedral with a gilded cupola, which is not what you have written about. Probably they meant the upper part of the whole construction, but never before that moment had I encountered the classification of roofs into cupolas and domes.
     

    Mezzofanti

    Senior Member
    Native speaker of pukka UK English
    I have an alternative interpretation. I think that "cupola" is technical whereas "dome" is the everyday word, but that there is very little real difference in meaning. Does this work as an explanation ?
     

    JudeMama

    Senior Member
    American English
    My dictionary says a dome is: a vault, having a circular plan and usually in the form of a portion of a sphere.

    My dictionary says a cupola is: a structure on a dome or roof, serving as a belfry, lantern, or belvedere.
     
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