Site hosted by Build your free website today!

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

Back to:Building Pathology Home Page

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.


E-mail: or


...or go the old fashioned way:

A. Sebastian, POB 17901, Seattle, WA 98107

our url:

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 to C

D E F G H I J K L M to Z


damage (R pierdere, paguba)Consequences of a defect or failure, expressed in terms of costs, injuries, loss of life, etc.; loss

Damp, Dampness (F humidité superficielle, R umiditate, umezeala, jilav, igrasie) Condition of being slightly wet: usually not so wet that liquid water is evident, eg. wetness caused by condensation on a porous substrate or water transmitted up a porous wall by capillarity Dampen (R 1. a umezi, 2. a amortiza)

DCP (Dynamic Cone Penetrometer) Instrument used to measure the strength of soil and granular materials used in roadway construction

Deck (F platelage, R placa) Slab

Decline (R declin, decadere, surpare, prabusire, dezagregare)

Declivity (R povirnis, panta, caracter abrupt, inclinatie mare)

Decomposition (F décomposition, R descompunere, destramare, putrezire, dezagregare) The separation of a material into elements or parts

Defect (F défaut, R defect) The non-conformity of the result of a test with the specification for a characteristic (ISO 2071). In Building Pathology, used sometimes almost as a synonym of 'fault' or 'failure', but preferred meaning is to indicate only a deviation from some (perceived) standard which may, but will not necessarily result in a failure

Definition (R definitie, definire, caracterizare, precizare) ...

Deflection (F défaut, R deformatie) ...

  1. "deflection at window head" (F flèche au niveau de la tête de dormant)

Delamination (F délaminage, R destratificare) The breakdown of a material by separation of the layers of which it is composed. C The separation of the slab usually at the level of reinforcement in a plane roughly parallel to the upper surface, and is caused by corrosion of the steel. Whether visible on the surface or not, delaminations should be repaired as they indicate a high level of corrosion activity and may lead to significant structural weakening.

Depreciation Decline in value of a house due to wear and tear, adverse changes in the neighborhood, or any other reason.

Design (F conception R proiectare, calcul)
Etymology: Middle English, to outline, indicate, mean, from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French designer to designate, from Medieval Latin designare, from Latin, to mark out, from de- + signare to mark.

  1. The approach that engineering, architecture and some other technical fields use to calculate, detail, or specify how to create or do something. Examples: beam design=establish and calculate size, span, define material(s) to be used, loading conditions, components, connections, deformation, behavior under specific conditions, etc.
  2. verb, transitive senses: to create, formulate, devise, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan; conceive; invent.
  3. noun:

Detailing (the installation) (F détails d'installation, R detalii de instalare) ...

Deterioration (F détérioration, R deteriorare, stricare) A reduction in ability to perform up to the anticipated standard

Deviation (F ecart; R abatere, deviere) Divergence of the value of a quantity from a standard or reference value (BS 5233). Used generally to indicate a divergence from what was originally intended.

diagnosis (R diagnostic), pl. diagnoses[Greek diagnosis=discernment] Identification, especially of a fault or defect, by examination and analysis.

Dipstick (R joja, mira)The dipstick is an instrument used to calculate the elevation profile of the road.

Down payment
1. The portion of the sales price to be paid by the purchaser to the seller upon the signing of the agreement of sale.
2. Contract execution: generally payment validates a contract even when there is no written aggrement draw: Periodic advances of funds according to the schedule of payments in a construction loan agreement. Also called advance, disbursement, payout, progress payment or takedown.

due date Date by which the borrower must make an agreed progress payment.

due-diligence review
1. Examination by a purchaser of a servicing portfolio. Generally this review will look at credit quality and underwriting of the loan collateral underlying the servicing rights, correctness and completeness of documents, the seller's servicing practices and methodologies and the accuracy of the portfolio offering document.
2. Due diligence. The work performed by a broker or other representative in order to investigate and understand an investment thoroughly before recommending it to a customer. 3. The process of investigation, performed by investors, into the details of a potential investment, such as an examination of operations and management and the verification of material facts. 4. In a professional evaluation, the degree of care and cautian required before making a decision.

duplex A single structure legally designed with two separate housing units.

Durability (F durability, R durabilite, trainicie, longevitate) The quality of maintaining satisfactory aesthetic, economic, and functional performance for the useful life of the structure

Duration (R durata)
1. the time during which something exists or lasts
2. continuance in time

duress Compulsion, pressure or coercion under protest: "will proceed under duress"

dwelling unit Living quarters occupied or intended for occupancy by a household.

Dynamic Sensors traffic triggered sensors

Back to the top


earnest moneyA deposit made to bind the conditions of a sale of real estate or of a contract for certain services. If the sale goes through, the earnest money is applied against the down payment. If the sale does not go through, the earnest money may be refundable.

Efflorescence (F efflorescence; R eflorescenta, ~ cristalelor de sare, eflorare de saruri) White salts brought to the surface of porous building materials by water movement (BS 4049)

Embedded Strain Gauge A sensor that measures static and horizontal strains in concrete and asphalt layers by means of five different models placed in various locations and orientations.

Estimate (F devis, R deviz) Rough determination of the size, extent, or nature of a project; a statement of the approximate cost of a project

Exchange (R preschimbare, schimbare) ...

Exfiltration (R prelingere) Leakage out of a material or structure


  1. "allow differential thermal expansion between the window and wall" (F permettre la dilatation thermique différentielle entre le mur et la fenêtre)


Failure (F défaillance, R avarie, insuficienta, prabusire, slabire, defectiune, pana, deranjament, ruptura, dizlocare, surpare, distrugere, dezastru, pierderea functionalitatii) The termination of the ability of an item to perform a required function. See defect & fault

Fatigue (R oboseala) The weakening of a material caused by repeated or alternating loads; may be used in conjunction with either static or dynamic loading (BS 2787)

Fault (F 1.imperfection, vice, R 1.defect, 2.falie) 1) Any defect which impairs normal operation (BS CP1013); 2) geologic discontinuity where seismic events start. See failure & defect

Faultmeter A Georgia Digital instrument that measures vertical displacement between joints with a digital readout. Measurements are positive or negative and be recorded for a number of joints

FHWA (US) Federal Highway Administration

Fissure (F fissure, R fisura, crapatura) crack or split flexure (F flexion, R incovoiere) ...

Fracture (F fracturer, R fractura, rupere, ruptura)[n or v] To make or become discontinuous otherwise than by cutting. Usually of relatively brittle materials

Fungus (F moisi, R fungi, ciuperca, mucegai) A plant growth obtaining its nutrition by breakdown of organic matter, usually associated with the presence of dampness, eg. in timber. The plants are characterized by the absence of chlorophyll (BS 4261)

Fungal growth (F moisissure). mold. Upward movement of soil (ground) or of a structure which it supports

FWD (Falling Weight Deflectometer) Instrument that determines the structual condition of each pavement layer.


Grout extremely fluid mixture of sand and gravel; ASTM C476, ACI530.1/ASCE6/TMS602

Back to the top


Honeycombing (F caverneux) usually used to refer to a defective condition in concrete. The concrete contains interconnecting large voids due to loss or lack of mortar

Horizontal Clip Gauge Tr: sensor that measures the width of concrete joint openings.


Infiltration (F infiltration, R infiltratie) leakage into a material or structure; water ingress

Installation details (F détails d'installation, R detalii de instalare) ...

Integrity (F bon état, R intregime) in Building Pathology: soundness, with no part or element deficient in performance

Inquiry (R ancheta, cercetare) Official, or semi-official, examination of a case, with the aim of establishing cause, blame, etc.

Interstitial occurring within the thickness of some material element. usually used in the context of 'interstitial condensation' which means condensation which occurs within the thickness of a building element or within its component materials


Joint (F joint) (construction -, expansion -, control -) Position where two or more building materials, components or assemblies are put together, fixed or united, with or without the use of extra jointing products (BS DD22)

  1. joints or connections between window and wall (F joints ou raccords entre la fenêtre et le mur)
  2. "failure by slow deterioration or separation of the sealed joint" (F défaillance causée par la détérioration ou la rupture du joint d'étanchéité)

Just in Time systems (JIT) Production and inventory control systems designed to produce small lots and to produce the right items in the quantities needed by subsequent production processes at the right time.

Back to the top


Limit state (F etat limit, R stare limita) State at which performance criteria are just met

load (F charges, R incarcare, forta) ...

  1. Vertical structural loads (F charges structurales verticales)
  2. wind forces (F force du vent): "maintain structural strength against substantial wind forces", "designed to support their own internal weight (F ...sont conçues pour soutenir leur propre poids)" (F maintenir une résistance contre la force du vent), "vertical loads above the head of a window frame must be transferred to a lintel or other structural system that limits deflection to an acceptable amount" (F les charges verticales au dessus de la tête de dormant doivent être transmises à un linteau ou à un autre élément de charpente qui limite la flèche à un degré acceptable)
  3. load transfer (F transfert de charges): "load transfer around windows (F transfert de charges autour des fenêtres)", "vertical loads are transferred (F charges verticales vers le bas sont transmises)"
  4. "loads might then be transferred to sashes or glass" (F des charges peuvent être transmises au châssis ou au vitrage), "these load transfers will affect ease of operation or possibly induce stresses on the glazing unit" (F Ces transferts de charges affectent la facilité de manoeuvre et peuvent exercer des contraintes sur le vitrage)
  5. anticipated loads (F les charges prévues)
  6. "provide continuity of the load bearing path as indicated" (F assurer la continuité du parcours de transfert des charges)

Loss (R pierdere, paguba)Consequences of a defect or failure, expressed in terms of costs, injuries, loss of life, etc.; damage

Lumber (R cherestea, lemne de constructie, lemnarie de constructie) Any wood which has been sawed and planed; wood or wood products used for construction. Also, in various SIC (Standard Industrial Classifications):
5211 Lumber and building materials dealers-retail
5211 Lumber and planing mill product dealers-retail
2421 Lumber stacking or sticking-mfg
4226 Lumber terminals, storage for hire
2426 Lumber, hardwood dimension-mfg
2421 Lumber, kiln drying of-mfg
5031 Lumber: rough, dressed, and finished-wholesale
2421 Lumber: rough, sawed, or planed-mfg
2329 Lumberjackets: men's and boys'-mfpm-mfg

LTPP Long Term Pavement Performance

LVDT Linear Variable Differential Transformer. A sensor consisting of two components anchored at different levels to measure the relative vertical deflection of pavement layers

LVR (Low Volume Road) 2.5 mile loop where controlled truck weight and traffic volume simulate conditions on rural roads

Back to the top



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 (

Back to the top

Back to: Building Pathology Home Page

Back to Building Pathology glossary index

This page url: