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Sebastian's Technical Glossaries:

Building & general construction technology dictionary:
technology, architecture, civil, structural, forensic, mechanical, pavement and materials engineering, roofing, and masonry
with elements of testing and quality science

on-line mostly American English/French/Romanian

By A. Sebastian

© 1995 - 2050 A. Sebastian. All rights reserved.

Hosted by A. Sebastian Engineering & Investigation Services

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ASEIS also offers a Construction durability glossary
and a Building pathology glossary

First and foremost, this is a construction dictionary with English explanations. Given the difficulty that faces the Romance language speaker to relate to technical English (and the other way around), whenever possible, the corresponding equivalents are given (where genus choices are possible, only the masculine is shown). Some reference standards are also indicated. If you have a better translation, please e-mail it to us for consideration / inclusion / credit.

Items currently in the works may show in italics.


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C concrete/mortar/grout
Ch chemistry
P paints/coatings
M masonry
R roofing
T testing
Th technology
Tr transportation/pavement engineering
W wood, timber [v] verb
[n] noun

A B C D to L M to Z


Cantilever (R consola) A beam or truss rigidly supported at one end, or in the middle, but not at both ends, which has forces applied along the free arm or at the free end. Cantilever construction is used for canopies, balconies, large construction cranes, diving springboards, and in cantilever bridges where the span is supported not at the ends but toward the center of the bridge truss. Many drawbridges are basically cantilevers. A cantilever beam of given cross section is much weaker than a similar beam twice as long but supported at both ends.

Capillarity (F capillarity, R capilaritate) Absorbtion of a liquid due to surface tension _ "rising damp" (R Igrasie) in walls is caused by capillary rise of the water in small pores of the walling materials

Carbonation (F carbonatation, R carbonare, carbonatie) C: The transformation of the free alkali and alkali-earth hydroxides existent in the cement matrix into carbonates, due to a reaction with carbon dioxide available in the atmosphere.

Cell (R celula, baterie, element) Test cells of 500 feet length are constructed for various combinations of bituminous, concrete and aggregate. They represent a wide range of pavement types with varying combinations of surface, base, subbase, drainage and compaction

Caisson (R cheson)

    Also referred to as a Camel.
  1. casing or cylinder used to sink shafts in unstable or wet placer ground.
  2. watertight structure (box or chamber) within which construction work is carried on under water
  3. large box open at the top and one side, designed to fit against the side of a ship and used to repair damaged hulls under water
  4. floating structure used to close off the entrance to a dock or canal lock.

Calcareous (R calcaros)

  • limestone or calcium carbonate-like material
  • formed of calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate by either inorganic precipitation or biological deposition in sufficient quantities to effervesce carbon dioxide visible when treated with cold 0.1 normal hydrochloric acid. Calcareous sands are usually formed of a mixture of fragments of mollusk shell, echinoderm spines and skeletal material, coral, foraminifera, and algal platelets.

    Calcine (R calcinare) Heated to temperature of dissociation; for example, heat gypsum to the temperature where the water of crystallization is driven off.

    Cladding (F bardage, R vener, although the cladding/air barrier concept is not normally used in Romanian construction) The external covering to the frame or structural walls of a building or structure (BS 5168). The veneer is non- loadbearing, and as such it is designed to carry only its own weight (dry and/or wet), and a limited number of loads such as wind and seism. In relationship with the structure it encloses, it can be either fully bonded or sepparated by an air barrier Collateral The property pledged by a borrower to secure a loan.

    Concrete (F béton, R beton) intimate mixture of portland cement, aggregates, and water, which will harden to a rocklike mass.

    1. Portland Cement Concrete (F béton de ciment portland)
    2. precast or cast in situ (cast in place) (F la production d'éléments préfabriqués ou qu'il soit coulé en place; R beton prefabricat sau turnat)
    3. to specify certain minimum requirements such as compressive strength (F de spécifier certaines exigences minimales, comme la résistance à la compression)
    4. cold weather construction problems (F la construction par temps froid)
    5. required to perform under severe environmental conditions (F Il doit souvent résister aux conditions rigoureuses du milieu)
    6. workability of plastic concrete (F ouvrabilité du béton plastique)
    7. air-entrainment (F Entraînement d'air)
    8. durability (F durabilité)
    9. cycles of freezing and thawing (F les cycles de gel et de dégel)
    10. air-void systems in the cement paste (F bulles d'air dans la pâte de ciment)
    11. cold weather concreting (F bétonnage par temps froid; R betonare in conditii reci)
    12. hot weather concreting (F bétonnage par temps chaud doit; R betonare in conditii fierbinti)
    13. premature stiffening and hardening (F le raffermissement et le durcissement prématurés)
    14. absorption, permeability, durability (F l'absorption, la perméabilité, la durabilité)
    15. cement content (F la teneur en ciment, R continutul de ciment)
    16. concrete block (F blocs de béton; R blocuri de beton)
    17. impermeability and low absorption characteristics (F imperméable et de faible absorption)
    18. corrosion of reinforcing steel (F corrosion de l'acier d'armature, R ruginirea armaturii)
    19. adequate concrete cover

    1. Determination by a governmental agency that a particular building is unsafe or unfit for use.
    2. Eminent domain: the taking of private property for public use by a governmental agency, usually against the will of the owner, but with payment of (assumingly) just compensation.

    Condensation (F condensation, R condensatie) Precipitation of liquid from its vapor resulting from lowering of the temperature under constant pressure, especially the deposition of water from warm moist air on to a relatively cold surface (BS 5643)

    Condominium Individual ownership of a dwelling unit in a multi-unit project (i.e., apartment, townhouse).

    Consistency ...

    Construction Loan A short term loan intended to be used to pay construction costs as they occur.

    1. Something liable to happen as an adjunct to or result of something else: "attempting to provide for every contingency"
    2. Fee for services (as of a lawyer) paid only upon successful completion of the services and usually calculated as a percentage of the gain realized for the client; called also "contingent fee" 3. A condition that must occur before a contract becomes legally binding.

    1. a: legally enforceable binding agreement between any number of parties; b: business arrangement for the supply of goods or services at a fixed price
    2. document describing the actual terms of a contract

    Contractor In the construction industry, a contractor is one who contracts to erect buildings or portions of them. There are also contractors for each phase of construction: heating, electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, road building, bridge and dam erection, and others.

    Cooperative Housing A group of dwellings (such as an apartment building) owned by a corporation, the stockholders of which are the residents of the dwellings.

    Co-Signer A person, besides the actual borrower, who signs a note and becomes co-liable for repayment.

    Corrosion (F corrosion, R coroziune, ruginire) when it refers to iron or steel) Deterioration of a metal by chemical or electrochemical reaction with its environment (BS 3660). Occasionally used, incorrectly, to apply to non-metallic materials, eg. concrete

    Crack (F fissure, R crapatura) Linear discontinuity produced by fracture (BS 499). Elongated narrow opening. Synonyms can include: break, split, fracture, fissure, separation, cleavage, in various applications

    Crazing (R paienjenis de crapaturi) Random network of surface cracks (BS 3446). Used generally to describe surface cracking of concrete surfaces, terracotta (see ceramic glaze explanation below), or paint film. Also used specifically to describe the fine network cracking of ceramic glazes produced by either differential thermal expansion between glaze and tile body, or moisture expansion of the body

    Creep (F fluage, R curgere lenta) Slow deformation of a stressed material at temperatures which may be within or above the normal working range of the material (BS 1755)

    1. creep resistance (F résister au fluage)

      CRREL USACE/Cold Regions Research Engineering Laboratory (great institutution, although strangely enough it is located in Western NH)

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      A. Sebastian: "Essential Construction & Architectural Engineering Dictionary"

      Webster, formerly known as a "Dictionary of the American Language" (whatever that might mean)

      American Heritage Dictionary

      Encarta, a barely passable product from a much less than passable corporation

      Echo-Eurodicatum: although sliding down fast, it is still the power house to beat in web multilingual dictionaries (

      TechDico, Logos (

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