Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one edifice or multiple edifices.)
Concretely, an edifice is a very big building.
Abstractly, an edifice is an organization or system that's very big and complicated.
edifices, edificial (rare)
How to use it:
We'll focus on the abstract meaning, since it's pretty obvious how to talk about "a stone edifice," "a crumbling edifice," and so on. :)
When you call something an edifice, you're implying that it's big and complex because people have built it that way, and now it intimidates people. So talk about a musical edifice, a literary edifice, a political edifice, a theoretical edifice, and so on. You can say "the edifice of something," or, for emphasis, "the whole/entire edifice of something," as in the edifice of Greek life on campus, the whole edifice of tax law, or the entire edifice of professional sports.
Some writers and speakers take the abstraction a bit further and talk about an edifice that is built on something, or something that is built on the edifice of something--or something that shakes or weakens the edifice of something.
With a regrettable arrogance, I acted like a little queen at my high school, so it was well-deserved when I subsequently felt inconsequential in the edifice of college.
You almost have to take ten big steps backward to start truly viewing the edifice of segregation and the violation of human rights throughout human history.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "edifice” means when you can explain it without saying “large building” or “complex system."
Think of the last time you felt frustrated by something overly complicated, and fill in the blanks: "I wasn't expecting to get lost in the/an edifice of _____ when I (had to/wanted to) _____."
Example: "I wasn't expecting to get lost in an edifice of bureaucracies when I had to change my last name after getting married."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for May is: “What Do These Words Have in Common?”
The three words given will have something specific in common. (More than one right answer might be possible, but I've only got one particular answer in mind for each set of words.) I've arranged the questions from easiest to hardest, so today’s should still be pretty easy. By the end of the month, expect some whoppers.
What do these words have in common?: scissors, doldrums, cattle
Answer: All are plural, but there’s no such thing as a singular for them. (You can't have one scissor, or a single doldrum, or a... a... catt?)
Try this one today: bittersweet, butthead, dimwit
A Point Well Made:
Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld: “Quarrels would not last long if only one side was wrong.”
1. The closest opposites of EDIFICE are
A. JALOPY and POVERTY
B. CANOE and NARROWNESS
C. SHANTY and SIMPLICITY
2. It may seem _____ to the layman, but to a neurosurgeon or neuropsychologist, the brain is a monumental edifice.
A. like a relatively simple organ
B. acceptably efficient
C. comparable to the complex inner workings of a computer
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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