Definition of frontispiece in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈfrʌntɪspiːs/


1An illustration facing the title page of a book.
Example sentences
  • Passerotti's Self-Portrait with Skeleton, Ecorche and Nudes, early 1580s (Warsaw University Library), is presumed to have been drawn as the frontispiece for his book.
  • The first illustration was a colour frontispiece entitled ‘Chemical Industry, Upheld by Pure Science, Sustains the Production of Man's Necessities.’
  • The frontispiece to Hokusai's Illustrated Manual on Coloring of 1848 shows a fanatical painter holding five brushes in feet, hands, and mouth, all at work painting.
2 Architecture The principal face of a building.
Example sentences
  • The image shows a campus with lush green lawns, classical architecture and a brick frontispiece displaying a sign that reads ‘State College’.
  • It came with a frontispiece showing damage caused by fascist artillery to the Goya Foundation.
  • It was a low, flat building with arched windows and a central balcony and square frontispiece, with the post office occupying one wing.
2.1A decorated entrance.
Example sentences
  • The frontispieces for the first three parts of The New Foundling Hospital for Wit are catalogued, respectively, no.s 4244, 4200, and 4245.
2.2A pediment over a door or window.
Example sentences
  • In the lower half of the frontispiece, the Muses adorn the monument with attributes of their respective arts.


Late 16th century (in sense 2): from French frontispice or late Latin frontispicium 'facade', from Latin frons, front- 'front' + specere 'to look'. The change in the ending (early in the word's history) was by association with piece.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.