AskDefine | Define hallway

Dictionary Definition

hallway n : an interior passage or corridor onto which rooms open; "the elevators were at the end of the hall" [syn: hall]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A corridor in a building that connects rooms.

Extensive Definition

Several things are commonly known as Halls or halls. For the development of meaning of the word 'hall', see Hall (concept).
A hall is fundamentally a relatively large space enclosed by a roof and walls. In the Iron Age, a mead hall was such a simple building and was the residence of a lord and his retainers. Later, rooms were partitioned from it, so that today the hall of a house is the space inside the front door from which the rooms are reached.
  • Deriving from the above, a hall is often the term used to designate a British or Irish country house.
  • In later medieval Europe, the main room of a castle or manor house was the great hall.
  • Where the hall inside the front door of a house is elongated, it may be called a passage, or hallway. The corresponding space upstairs is a landing.
  • In a medieval building, the hall was where the fire was kept. With time, its functions as dormitory, kitchen, parlour and so on were divided off to separate rooms or, in the case of the kitchen, a separate building.
On the same principle:
  • A hall is also a building consisting largely of a principal room, that is rented out for meetings and social affairs. It may be privately or government-owned, such as a function hall owned by one company used for weddings and cotillions (organized and run by the same company on a contractual basis) or a community hall available for rent to anyone.
Following a line of similar development:
  • In office buildings and larger buildings (theatres, cinemas etc), the entrance hall is generally known as the foyer (the French for fire-place). The atrium, a name sometimes used in public buildings for the entrance hall, was the central courtyard of a Roman house.
Derived from the residential meanings of the word:
  • Hall is also a surname of people, one of whose ancestors lived in a hall as distinct from one such as David M. Cote, whose ancestor will have lived in a cote, a much humbler place shared with the livestock.

Association with salt

From a completely separate derivation:
A Hall is a brand of bitter (beer) made in Germany and sold worldwide, mainly across America.
  • In German speaking areas, Hall (with a short a) can also form part of a town name, like Halle, where the name refers to hall, the Celtic word for salt (compare Welsh halen or Breton holen or Cornish holan). In this connection, Hall is the short form of the name of:
  1. the medieval German town Schwäbisch Hall, where Hall was its whole name prior to 1933
  2. the Austrian town Hall in Tirol near Innsbruck, which used to be called Solbad Hall from 1938 to 1974,
  3. Hallstatt in Austria which gave its name to the Celtic Hallstatt culture.
Sir Charles Hallé (originally Karl Halle) lent his name to the Hallé Orchestra. His forbears were probably associated with the German town of Halle. The accent was added to his name in order to assist English-speakers in pronouncing the word.
In the ancient world, the Celts were neighbours of the Greeks whose word for salt was halos (`αλοσ). While European science was developing, some branches of it adopted the Greek language as the source of its terminology. We therefore have words like halogen, halide, halotrichite and halocarbon.
hallway in German: Foyer
hallway in Italian: Foyer
hallway in Georgian: ჰოლი (ოთახი)
hallway in Dutch: Foyer
hallway in Polish: Foyer
hallway in Portuguese: Hall
hallway in Swedish: Hall (rum)
hallway in Yiddish: זאל
hallway in Chinese: 禮堂
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