What is a "flight of stairs"?

I apologize if this is an IMHO question/post.

Is a flight of stairs a set of stairs between floors? Is it a set of stairs at one angle (Hence a set of stairs between floors might have more than 1 flight)? Is there another commonly held definition?

The way I understand it, is that a flight of stairs is a set of stair from one floor to another floor. The any “flat” spot on the flight for decoratice purposes, for a “rest”, to make them longer or to change the angle is a landing.

Thanks Ticker. I hate to be obsessive about this. But is “any two landings” exactly that? Say the 1st floor and 5th floor are two landings, is this one flight of stairs? Or is a flight of stairs any two consecutive landings? Is JoeyP’s definition on landing the accepted definition. BTW, my Merriam Webster Dictionary did not have “flight of stairs” listed.

I ask because my co-worker insists that the set of stairs from the 1st floor to the 5th can be considered a flight.

The Cambridge Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defines a flight of stairs as “a set of steps or stairs, usually between two floors of a building”.

ticker: What does the SOED define a landing as? The flat part at the top of a flight of stairs?

Bizarrely, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, at http://www.dictionary.com/ defines a flight as “A series of stairs rising from one landing to another” and a landing as “An intermediate platform on a flight of stairs”. The two definitions would seem to be mutually contradictory, since one holds that a flight ends at a landing, and the other seems to indicate that a flight can contain a number of landings.

In tomndebb usage, a flight is any run of stairs in which the stairs are evenly separated. A break in the pattern (a landing) separates flights, regardless whether the stairs continue on in the same direction or turn, as in a stairwell. (I am supported in this by Merriam-Webster on-line that describes it as

The OED provides:

and then provides this first citation for that usage:

You should have asked a carpenter.

A landing, be it a floor or intermediate landing, separates filghts.

Nice cites, tomndebb.

Thanks for the help everyone.

I always thought of a flight of stairs as defined by tomndebb. But if someone says “I went down 3 flights of stairs”, I tend to think they mean they started on one floor and went past the next 2 floors to the floor below. This interpretation seems to be the consensus of opinion in my office. In most commercial buildings, if you take the stairs for 3 floors you have traveled at least 6 flights by the landing-to-landing definition.

Am I just gonna have to live with this imprecision? :slight_smile:

Welcome to life.

Well, that’s an argument at work here, too. There’s a sign on the ground level at one staircase that says, “Hourly payroll one flight up.” Of course someone crossed out “one” and wrote “two” (which I call correct, since there’s a landing half way). But the “two” is crossed out again, and “one” written again. The “one” is still firmly in place, but “flight” is crossed out and “floor” is written above it. Seemed to solve the problem. :slight_smile:

A flight of stairs is … much less fun than a flight of wines.

I’ve heard it way too many times to mean ‘the stairs between floors’ of a building that it had to be defined as such somewhere. And sure enough:

A very New York thing. Though, I’m sure the original meaning was the continuous stairs between landings.

When I was a little black girl growing up in the South of France, I remember climbing the fence of the neighboring pasture to watch a flight of stairs flitting across the fields in playful gallops. I dreamed that one day, I would be able to tame that flight and climb it.