Names of roof features

Over the years, I’ve often found myself struggling for the correct names for certain roof features. It often happens when I write, but it also happens in common conversation–roofs are simply (to me) one of the most immediately obvious features of a building. I’ve done my “homework”, and I know the names of the general types of roof – hipped, gambrell, mansard, flat, pyramid, shed, saltbox, etc.-- but I have never found a good site listing the names of architectural features of roofs. I’m particularly concerned with elements like dormers, the small roof often found over side doors, or the raised roofs when Cape Cods or saltboxes are expanded to the rear (especially the ones that stop a foot or two short of the roof edge, to preserve the original roof line)

Most likely, this would be an easy search for someone who already knows enough terms to formulate the search, but it’s stymied me and tonight I found myself once again re-writing a passage simply to avoid mentioning a significant architectural feature whose name eluded me.

I’m sure this kind of information would also enrich my life generally. When you know the name (or reason) for something, you notice it more often, and learn more. Every renovation I’ve ever been involved with has taught me things about architecture and construction hat I’ve never imagined.

Websites or specific terms are equally welcome.

“Dinna fascia self,” as the Scots would say: Here’s a Roof Glossary.

Two architectural terms burned into my memory since grade 11:
Soffit: the underside of the part of the roof that sticks out past the walls.
Fascia: the boards around the end of the roof, where the eavestroughs are attached.


When an addition is added to the rear of a Cape or Saltbox in the manner you describe, it is called a shed dormer, to distinguish it from the traditional dormer.

If you encounter a cricket on a roof, it is not a nasty bug in need of spushing. Crickets are small hip roofs perpendicular to the main ridge, typically located behind a chimney to divert water or snow melt. Unusual on a roof below 4~6/12.

Thanks to all who have replied. I may have been unclear. Danceswithcats was on target with the kind of features I’m looking for. For example, the glossary was mostly construction/roofing terms, which I’m reasonably comfortable with. I was looking more for the names of architectural details and features.

It’s a different world. For example, I’m a competent anatomist, but I’ve never quite felt 100% certain of common terms of physiognomy – when a novel says “a Roman nose”, everyone seems to understand the convention, but I’m lost. The classical busts I’ve seen seem reasonably varied.

Chief Roman Nose got his name from his most prominent facial feature.

A Roman nose is usually taken to mean one with a pronounced bump at the to, and then a fairly vertical front to it - the opposite of a turned-up nose, if you like.
Here’s one.

There’s one that I forgot: the eyebrow dormer. More common on older architecture, they’re an eye-catching (no pun intended) feature.

Here is one with a shallow rise, and some which are more prominent.