What is a Girder?


vocabularyThe more I come across construction jargon, the more baffled I become. In fact, while proofreading the last building survey I had to look up so many words that, in retrospect, I should have included a glossary.

A girder, not unlike a girdle, is a reinforcing agent; girdles are more uncomfortable, but I digress. The root of both, however, is gird. Merriam-Webster defines gird as:

(transitive verb) 1a : to encircle or bind with a flexible band (as a belt)

According to the Construction Dictionary, 9th Edition © 2001 published by the Greater Phoenix, Arizona Chapter #98 of the National Association of Women in Construction a girder is defined as follows:

Any heavy, strong or principal flexural member, usually horizontal, on which the weight of a floor is carried; a main supporting beam, either timber or steel; used for supporting a superstructure; used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along at its length.

According to the Mean’s Illustrated Construction Dictionary, 1st Edition, Copyright 1985, a girder can be defined as:

A large principal beam of steel, reinforced concrete, wood, or a combination of these, used to support other structural members at isolated points along its length.

As a bonus “girdle” is also used in construction jargon. According to Mean’s it is “a horizontal band around the shaft of a column.”

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