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A wall is a usually solid structure that defines and sometimes protects an area. Most commonly, a wall delineates a building and supports its superstructure, separates space in buildings into rooms, or protects or delineates a space in the open air. There are three principal types of structural walls: building walls, exterior boundary walls, and retaining walls.


Building walls

Building walls have one main purpose: to support roofs and ceilings. Such walls most often have three or more separate components. In today's construction, a building's wall will usually have the structural elements (such as 2×4 studs in a house wall), insulation, and finish elements, or surface (such as drywall or panelling). In addition, the wall may house various types of electrical wiring or plumbing. Electrical outlets are usually mounted in walls.

Building walls frequently become works of art externally and internally, such as when featuring mosaic work or when murals are painted on them; or as design foci when they exhibit textures or painted finishes for effect.

On a ship, the walls separating compartments are termed "bulkheads", whilst the thinner walls separating cabins are termed "partitions".

In architecture and civil engineering, the term curtain wall refers to the facade of a building which is not load-bearing but functions as decoration, finish, front, face, or history preservation.

Boundary walls

Boundary walls include privacy walls, boundary-marking walls on property, and city walls. These intergrade into fences; the conventional differentiation is that a fence is of minimal thickness and often is open in nature, while a wall is usually more than a nominal thickness and is completely closed, or opaque. More to the point, if an exterior structure is made of wood or wire, it is generally referred to as a fence, while if it is made of masonry, it is considered a wall. A common term for both is barrier, convenient if it is partly a wall and partly a fence, for example the Berlin Wall. Another kind of wall/fence ambiguity is the ha-ha which is set below ground level, so as not to interrupt a view yet acting as a barrier to cattle for example.

Before the invention of artillery, many of the world's cities and towns, particularly in Europe and Asia, had protective walls (also called town walls or city walls). In fact, the English word "wall" is derived from Latin vallum, which was a type of fortification wall. Since they are no longer relevant for defense, such cities have grown beyond their walls, and many of the walls, or portions thereof, have been torn down, for example in Rome, Italy and in Beijing, China. Examples of protective walls on a much larger scale include the Great Wall of China and Hadrian's Wall. A modern functional example was the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Berlin.

Retaining walls

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wall - Inca wall at Machu Picchu, Peru]]

In areas of rocky soils around the world, farmers have often pulled large quantities of stone out of their fields to make farming easier, and have stacked those stones to make walls that either mark the field boundary, or the property boundary, or both.

Retaining walls are a special type of wall, that may be either external to a building or part of a building, that serves to provide a barrier to the movement of earth, stone or water. The ground surface or water on one side of a retaining wall will be noticeably higher than on the other side. A dike is one type of retaining wall, as is a levee, a load-bearing foundation wall, and a sea wall.

Shared walls

Special laws often govern walls shared by neighbouring properties. Typically, one neighbour cannot alter the common wall if it is likely to affect the building or property on the other side. A wall may also separate apartment or hotel walls from each other. Each wall has two sides and breaking a wall on one side will break the wall on the other side.


It is notable that English uses the same word to refer to an external wall, and the internal sides of a room. This is by no means universal, and many languages distinguish between the two. In German, some of this distinction can be seen between Wand and Mauer, in Spanish between Pared and Muro.

Walls in popular culture

  • Progressive/psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd have a concept album called The Wall. This Wall is not real, but a metaphor for social barring.
  • Social networking site Facebook uses a wall to log the scrawls of friends. Users have gone on to create more advanced versions of the original wall, such as the application SuperWall.
  • The Berlin Wall that separated the Soviet zone of Berlin, Germany from the rest of the city from 1961 until its ultimate destruction in 1989.

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Most common English words: honour « individual « girls « #808: wall » cry » step » turning


Old English weall, from a West Germanic borrowing of Latin vallum (wall, rampart). Cognate with Dutch wal, German Wall.





wall (plural walls)

Wikipedia has an article on:


  1. A rampart of earth, stones etc. built up for defensive purposes.
  2. A structure built for defense surrounding a city, castle etc.
    The town wall was surrounded by a moat.
  3. Each of the substantial structures acting either as the exterior of or divisions within a structure.
    We're adding another wall in this room during the remodeling.
    The wind blew against the walls of the tent.
  4. (anatomy, zoology, botany) A divisive or containing structure in an organ or cavity.
    The cell walls are mostly composed of cellulose.
  5. A temporary impediment to free movement.
    A wall of police officers met the protesters before they reached the capitol steps.
  6. A type of butterfly (Lasiommata megera).
  7. (auction) A fictional bidder used to increase the price at an auction. Also called a chandelier.


(fictional bidder at an auction): cahndelier


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to wall

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to wall (third-person singular simple present walls, present participle walling, simple past and past participle walled)

  1. To enclose with a wall
    He walled the study with books.
  2. (with "in") To enclose by surrounding with walls.
    They had walled in the garden
  3. (with "off") To separate with a wall
    The previous owners had walled off two rooms, making an apartment.
  4. (with "up") To seal with a wall
    They walled up the basement space that had been used as a coal bin.


Derived terms


  • Anagrams of allw
  • lawl



  • IPA: /wɑl/, /wal/


wall (plural walls)



  1. (spring): A well.

Simple English

A picture of a stone wall protecting a city.

A wall is a vertical dividing surface. It divides space in buildings into rooms or protects buildings. It is usually made of stone or brick. Walls have 2 main purposes: to support the top part of buildings, and to divide space, giving protection from invasion and weather.

Before artillery was invented, many cities in Europe had protective walls. Since they are not suitable for defense any more, the walls have been destroyed.

The term "the Wall" usually referred to the Berlin Wall, built during the Cold War, which fell in 1989.

See also: fire wall, Wall painting, wallpaper, Great Wall of China and Western Wall in Jerusalem.

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