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Gargoyles, or gurgoyles (from the French gargouille, originally the throat or gullet, cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, and similar words derived from root gar, to swallow, the word representing the gurgling sound of water; Ital. doccia di grande; Ger. Ausguss), in architecture, the carved termination to a spout which conveys away the water from the gutters. Gargoyles are mostly grotesque figures. The term is applied more especially to medieval work, but throughout all ages some means of throwing the water off the roofs, when not conveyed in gutters, has been adopted, and in Egypt there are gargoyles to eject the water used in the washing of the sacred vessels which would seem to have been done on the flat roofs of the temples. In Greek temples, the water from the roof passed through the mouths of lions whose heads were carved or modelled in the marble or terra cotta cymatium of the cornice. At Pompeii large numbers of terra cotta gargoyles have been found which were modelled in the shape of various animals. Gargoyle-like are popular sales items and have featured in several fantasy novels, such as the Discworld series. They were also featured in a Disney series, Gargoyles.

mainly based on an article from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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