Word of the Day



1. a tube or passage that takes smoke from a fire up through a building and out through the roof
a. the part of a chimney, often made of bricks, that you can see on a roof

Origin of the word

Chimney was adapted from the Old French word ‘cheminée’, meaning ‘a room with a hearth’, and the Medieval Latin ‘caminata’, meaning ‘a fireplace’.


A chimney is a vertical channel fitted on the side of a building, which is positioned above a fireplace. The structure can be made from bricks, stainless steel or concrete. It acts to control the behaviour of smoke when a fire is set, quickly drawing the fumes away, so they do not fill the room. The upward movement of air and smoke which occurs inside a chimney is called the ‘draft’. It happens because heated gases are less dense than cold ones, so these lighter fumes travel up and out of the chimney.

In London, Battersea Power Station, which first opened in 1933, had four chimneys that deteriorated beyond repair as they aged. When the decision was made to transform this decommissioned facility into homes, the iconic chimneys were rebuilt as part of the project. Each chimney was restored using traditional construction techniques, ensuring this familiar feature of the London skyline remained intact.


“Sir, he made a chimney in my father’s house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it.”
(William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2)

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”
(Clement C. Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas)


vent, smokestack, flue

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

About the author

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

Leave a Comment