Definition of hypocaust in English:


Pronunciation /ˈhīpəˌkôst/ /ˈhaɪpəˌkɔst/


  • A hollow space under the floor of an ancient Roman building, into which hot air was sent for heating a room or bath.

    ‘Other mosaics, fountains and hypocausts came to light, and room after room as the palatial villa was uncovered.’
    • ‘Following St Johns Street opposite Newgate Street are public gardens containing columns, a reconstructed hypocaust and various building fragments.’
    • ‘This was done by using a furnace and the hypocaust system carried the heat around the complex.’
    • ‘Being so thick, the walls can incorporate heating pipes, and hypocausts feature in at least two of his projects.’
    • ‘The concrete columns, imported from Holland, also house channels for the building's heating and ventilation system, which is based on the Roman hypocaust system.’
    • ‘This is the last of the pilae stacks - but where's the hypocaust floor?’
    • ‘Without hypocaust, mosaics or wall plaster, the stone building seems to have been a relatively low-status dwelling.’
    • ‘The Korean heated floor extends this stove to operate on a whole room, like a Roman hypocaust.’
    • ‘Some have hypocausts of timber; others, without hypocausts, must have been heated with braziers within the rooms.’
    • ‘The larger villas were equipped with hypocausts, mosaics, painted walls and ceilings, but they remained the centres of agricultural estates.’
    • ‘In other respects, however, the building was relatively modest, being timber-framed, single-storey, and without a hypocaust.’
    • ‘Houses were also centrally heated by what was known as a hypocaust.’
    • ‘If his master lived in a cold climate, the first job of the day for a day would be to fire up the hypocaust.’
    • ‘The hot air flowing from furnaces in the cellar through the vents of the hypocaust went far to drive off the chill.’
    • ‘Other thermal control elements are the galleries' hypocaust floors which are like raised office plates over a concrete slab.’
    • ‘Elsewhere in the Vale of York, a villa was represented by hypocaust remains, with evidence of jet-working as well as iron slag.’


From Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston ‘place heated from below’, from hupo ‘under’ + kau- (base of kaiein ‘to burn’).