A column is a vertical feature in architecture that is generally a rounded shaft with a capital and a base that acts as a support. A column can also be non-structural, serving a decorative purpose or standing alone as a memorial. In mathematics, a column is any member of a family of functions known as power laws.
The word "column" comes from the Latin word columna, which means "straw", "stick" or "rod". It was originally used to describe an upright piece of wood or bamboo used by ancient Romans to hold up their buildings. Today, the term is often used interchangeably with "stem", although this usage is becoming less common.
Stems are features on plants that grow upward and contain leaves and flowers. Stems can be divided into two general types: vegetative stems and reproductive stems. Vegetative stems develop below ground and include petioles (leaf stalks) and rhizomes (underground stems). Reproductive stems produce seeds or pollen, setting up possible new plants. Flowers usually provide the only indication of whether a stem is reproductive or not. Some plants, such as morning glories, exhibit both traits. The words "flowering" and "inflorescence" are used to describe these structures.
Vegetative stems are commonly found in plants that people use for food or fiber.
Columns are commonly employed to support beams or arches that support the top portions of walls or ceilings. In architecture, a "column" is a structural element with proportional and ornamental characteristics. It provides support for an elevated surface such as a ceiling or roof. In building construction, the term column is also applied to any of several large-dimensioned supporting members used to distribute loadings within a structure and to connect it with other structures.
The word comes from the Latin columna, meaning "straw", because these were the materials used by ancient builders before steel and concrete were available. Today, metal columns are often fabricated from rolled stock that has been welded together to form a hollow cylinder. The ends may be flat or round, depending on their use. A square column is most stable because its four sides are equal angles; a circular one is more flexible but can span greater distances.
As long as they are not loaded beyond their capacity, columns are very useful elements to have in a house because they provide stability and comfort where needed. However, if they are too small relative to the size of the floor they support, then they will not be able to withstand the weight of anything put on them. For example, if a person sits on the edge of a chair with only three legs, then the center leg will collapse under the weight of the person sitting there.
A column is a vertical structural element that is designed to convey compressive load. Columns are often made of compressive-strength materials such as stone, brick, block, concrete, wood, steel, and so forth. The term "column" can also refer to someone who possesses these qualities, i.e., a female or male columnist.
The column of a building is the main support for the roof. The column must be strong enough to carry the weight of any ceiling that it supports. If the column is not strong enough, it will collapse under its own weight or that of anything placed on it.
The column may be single or double. In a single column structure, there is only one central pole to which all other elements are attached. In a double column structure, there are two parallel poles attached at their bases to the foundation wall. These serve to distribute loading over a larger area and thus reduce the strain on each individual beam or girder.
The height of the column is determined by the load it has to support and the distance between the column and the supporting surface. For example, if you were to measure the depth of a well, it would be the same as the height of a column supporting a heavy load, like those used in buildings.