cupboard

/kub"euhrd/, n.
1. a closet with shelves for dishes, cups, etc.
2. Chiefly Brit. any small closet or cabinet, as for clothes, food, or the like.
[1275-1325; ME cuppebord. See CUP, BOARD]

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 type of furniture that originated in the Middle Ages as a board or table for cups. The word also may have been used for a stepped sideboard and later for open shelves, both to display plate. Since the 16th century the name has referred to a case fitted with doors.

      Byzantine (Byzantine art) and Romanesque (Romanesque art) cupboards were of simple board construction, though they were sometimes decorated with elaborate painted designs. A fine example of about 1200, painted inside and out with pictures of saints on a gesso ground, survives in the cathedral at Halberstadt, Ger. Such freestanding cupboards were made for churches long before they were in common use in domestic interiors. The latter stage was reached only in the 14th century, when portable furniture began to be preferred to fixed objects that stood as permanent parts of a building. Many of the finest medieval cupboards were finely carved with Gothic designs closely following architectural motifs and forms.

      Late 15th-century cupboards for food storage, such as the English livery cupboard, had ventilating holes, often taking the form of carved open tracery. Another variety was the hall, or parlour, cupboard, an enclosed version of the cupboard for display. The court cupboard, for example, was important in Tudor and Stuart times in England but lost fashion after the Restoration.

      By the 17th century the cupboard was taking over the role of the chest as the principal piece of storage furniture. In certain parts of Europe, such as southern Germany, the cupboard may have developed from a chest placed on another chest, each opening at the front rather than at the top. For a long time cupboards were divided in two, horizontally, with handles sometimes attached to the sides of each section to facilitate moving.

      With the increasing importance of the cupboard, decoration became more lavish, taking the form of panelling, carving, and intarsia (mosaic of wood). Italy led the way in the 16th century with some of the finest intarsia panels. Panels were rectangular and sometimes contained finely carved scenes, or motifs, accompanied by carved friezes (horizontal bands). In the 17th century the Low Countries popularized a heavy form of cupboard, called in Dutch a kast (or, in the United States, kas), in which the panels were raised and three evenly spaced twisted columns supported a heavy cornice, the whole resting on squat bun (or ball) feet. Northern Germany was particularly noted for its massive cupboards, which were the most important pieces of furniture in the house.

      The press was a tall cupboard that held bed linen, curtains, and clothes as international trade provided for a greater number of luxury goods in the well-to-do household. In the early 18th century a press composed of a cupboard above a chest of drawers became popular in England, and its use spread to the Continent. Until modern times no major advances in cupboard design were made after the 18th century.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cupboard — Cup board (k[u^]b b[ e]rd), n. [Cup + board.] 1. A board or shelf for cups and dishes. [Obs.] Bacon. [1913 Webster] 2. A small closet in a room, with shelves to receive cups, dishes, food, etc.; hence, any small closet. [1913 Webster] {Cupboard… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cupboard — Cup board, v. t. To collect, as into a cupboard; to hoard. [R.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cupboard — (n.) late 14c., a board or table to place cups and like objects, from CUP (Cf. cup) (n.) + BOARD (Cf. board) (n.1). As a type of closed cabinet for food, etc., from early 16c …   Etymology dictionary

  • cupboard — [n] storage cabinet buffet, closet, depository, facility, locker, press, repository, sideboard, storeroom, wardrobe; concept 443 …   New thesaurus

  • cupboard — ► NOUN ▪ a piece of furniture or small recess with a door and usually shelves, used for storage. ORIGIN originally denoting a table or sideboard on which cups, plates, etc. were displayed …   English terms dictionary

  • cupboard — [kub′ərd] n. [ME cuppebord: see CUP & BOARD] a closet or cabinet with shelves for holding cups, plates, food, and the like …   English World dictionary

  • Cupboard — English livery cupboard approximately 1600 to 1640 Decorative crockery and b …   Wikipedia

  • cupboard — noun ⇨ See also ↑closet ADJECTIVE ▪ big, deep, large ▪ little, small, tiny ▪ high, low …   Collocations dictionary

  • cupboard */*/ — UK [ˈkʌbə(r)d] / US [ˈkʌbərd] noun [countable] Word forms cupboard : singular cupboard plural cupboards 1) a tall piece of furniture, usually attached to a wall and used for storing things, with shelves inside and one or two doors at the front a… …   English dictionary

  • cupboard — [[t]kʌ̱bə(r)d[/t]] cupboards 1) N COUNT A cupboard is a piece of furniture that has one or two doors, usually contains shelves, and is used to store things. In British English, cupboard refers to all kinds of furniture like this. In American… …   English dictionary

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