AskDefine | Define transept

Dictionary Definition

transept n : structure forming the transverse part of a cruciform church; crosses the nave at right angles

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The transversal part of a church, which crosses at right angles to the greatest length, and between the nave and choir. In the basilicas, this had often no projection at its two ends. In Gothic churches these project greatly, and should be called the arms of the transept. It is common, however, to speak of the arms themselves as the transepts.

Extensive Definition

Full descriptions of the elements of a Gothic floorplan are found at the entry Cathedral diagram. For the periodical go to The Transept.
The transept is the area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform ("cross-shaped") building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture. The transept separates the nave from the sanctuary, whether apse, choir, chevet, presbytery or chancel. The transepts cross the nave at the crossing, which belongs equally to the main nave axis and to the transept. Upon its four piers, the crossing may support a spire, a central tower (see Gloucester Cathedral) or a crossing dome. Since the altar is usually located at the east end of a church, a transept extends to the north and south. The north and south end walls often hold decorated windows of stained glass, such as rose windows, in stone tracery.
Rarely the basilicas and the church and cathedral planning that descended from them were built without transepts. Sometimes the transepts were reduced to matched chapels. More often the transepts extended well beyond the sides of the rest of the building, forming the shape of a cross. This design is called a "Latin cross" ground plan and these extensions are known as the arms of the transept. A "Greek cross" ground plan, with all four extensions the same length, produces a central-plan structure with consequences for the liturgy.
When churches retain a single transept, as at Pershore Abbey, there is generally a historical disaster, fire, war or funding, to explain the anomaly. At Beauvais only the chevet and transepts stand; the nave of the cathedral was never completed after a collapse of the daring high vaulting in 1284. At St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, only the choir and part of a southern transept were completed until a renewed building campaign in the 19th century.

Other senses of the word

The word "transept" is occasionally extended to mean any subsidiary corridor crossing a larger main corridor, such as the cross-halls or "transepts" of The Crystal Palace of glass and iron that was built for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
In a metro station or similar construction, a transept is a space over the platforms and tracks of a station with side platforms, containing the bridge between the platforms. Placing the bridge in a transept rather than an enclosed tunnel allows passengers to see the platforms, creating a less cramped feeling and making orientation easier.
transept in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Трансэпт
transept in Bulgarian: Трансепт
transept in Catalan: Transsepte
transept in Czech: Transept
transept in German: Kirchenschiff#Querschiff
transept in Esperanto: Transepto
transept in Spanish: Transepto
transept in Estonian: Transept
transept in French: Transept
transept in Galician: Transepto
transept in Hebrew: טרנספט
transept in Italian: Transetto
transept in Dutch: Transept
transept in Norwegian: Transept
transept in Polish: Transept
transept in Portuguese: Transepto
transept in Russian: Трансепт

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1