What does sconce mean?

Definitions for sconce

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word sconce.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. sconcenoun

    a shelter or screen providing protection from enemy fire or from the weather

  2. sconcenoun

    a small fort or earthwork defending a ford, pass, or castle gate

  3. sconcenoun

    a candle or flaming torch secured in a sconce

  4. sconcenoun

    a decorative wall bracket for holding candles or other sources of light

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Sconcenoun

    Etymology: schantz, German.

    Such fellows are perfect in the great commanders names, and they will learn you by rote where services were done; at such and such a sconce, at such a breach. William Shakespeare, Henry V.

    Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

    Golden sconces hang upon the walls,
    To light the costly suppers and the balls. John Dryden, Lucret.

    Triumphant Umbriel, on a sconce’s height,
    Clapp’d his glad wings, and sat to view the fight. Alexander Pope.

    Put candles into sconces. Jonathan Swift, Direct. to the Butler.

  2. To Sconceverb

    A word used in the universities, To mulct; to fine. A low word which ought not to be retained.

    Etymology: and derived plausibly by Stephen Skinner, whose etymologies are generally rational, from sconce, as it signifies the head; to sconce being to fix a fine on any one's head.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Sconce

    a fortification, or work for defense; a fort

  2. Sconce

    a hut for protection and shelter; a stall

  3. Sconce

    a piece of armor for the head; headpiece; helmet

  4. Sconce

    fig.: The head; the skull; also, brains; sense; discretion

  5. Sconce

    a poll tax; a mulct or fine

  6. Sconce

    a protection for a light; a lantern or cased support for a candle; hence, a fixed hanging or projecting candlestick

  7. Sconce

    hence, the circular tube, with a brim, in a candlestick, into which the candle is inserted

  8. Sconce

    a squinch

  9. Sconce

    a fragment of a floe of ice

  10. Sconce

    a fixed seat or shelf

  11. Sconceverb

    to shut up in a sconce; to imprison; to insconce

  12. Sconceverb

    to mulct; to fine

  13. Etymology: [D. schans, OD. schantse, perhaps from OF. esconse a hiding place, akin to esconser to hide, L. absconsus, p. p. of abscondere. See Abscond, and cf. Ensconce, Sconce a candlestick.]


  1. Sconce

    A sconce is a type of light fixture affixed to a wall in such a way that it uses only the wall for support, and the light is usually directed upwards. It does not have a base on the ground. The word applies both to traditional forms of torch lighting, but also to modern gas and electric light sources affixed in the same way. The etymology of sconce is from the Latin absconsus, and the French esconce. It is a word of many meanings, mostly signifying a covering or protection, or, by extension, that which is covered or protected. Modern electric light fixture sconces are often used in hallways or corridors to provide both lighting and a point of interest in a long passage. Sconce height in a passageway is generally 3/4 of the distance up the wall as measured from the floor to the ceiling, and the distance between sconces on the wall is generally equal to the distance of the sconces from the floor, often alternating sides of the passageway.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Sconce

    skons, n. a bulwark: a small fort: a protective headpiece, hence the head, the skull, brains, wits: a covered stall: a fine: a seat in an old-fashioned open chimney-place, a chimney-seat: a fragment of an icefloe.—v.t. to fortify: to tax, to fine lightly, at Oxford and Cambridge, for some irregularity. [O. Fr. esconcer, to conceal—L. abscondĕre, absconsum.]

  2. Sconce

    skons, n. the part of a candlestick for the candle: a hanging candlestick with a mirror to reflect the light: a lantern. [O. Fr. esconse—Low L. absconsa, a dark-lantern—abscondĕre, to hide.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. sconce

    A petty fort. Also, the head; whence Shakspeare's pun in making Dromio talk of having his sconce ensconced. Also, the Anglo-Saxon for a dangerous candle-holder, made to let into the sides or posts in a ship's hold. Also, sconce of the magazine, a close safe lantern.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. sconce

    In fortification, is a term applied to any small redoubt or fort, detached from the main works for some local object, as the defense of a pass or fort, etc. The word is not now often used.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of sconce in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of sconce in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

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