But what exactly is a Gargoyle?
Originally, Gargoyles were part of architecture: a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building.
The term originates from the French gargouille, originally "throat" or "gullet"; cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, and similar words derived from the root gar, "to swallow", which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, "throat"; Spanish gárgola, "gargoyle").
A chimera, or a grotesque figure, is a sculpture that does not work as a waterspout and serves only an ornamental or artistic function. These are also usually called gargoyles in laypersons' terminology, although the field of architecture usually preserves the distinction between gargoyles (functional waterspouts) and non-waterspout grotesques.
Reproductions of a statue representing gargoyle-like creatures, available in some stores although sometimes functional, are more often than not grotesques modeled after famous gargoyles.
These are the kind of Gargoyles most of us own. Ours sits on the table, not on the roof, and does not function as a downspout.
Historically, the gargoyle's grotesque form was said to scare off evil spirits so they were used for protection. For those who believed in evil spirits, gargoyles were powerful spirits in the service of the church. They were guardians of the buildings they were on and kept evil spirits away. Thus the faithful had no need to fear any evil spirit and could even laugh at it with impunity.
Monsters, or more precisely chimeras, were used as decoration on 19th and early 20th century buildings in cities such as New York (where the Chrysler Building's stainless steel gargoyles are celebrated), and Chicago. Gargoyles can be found on many churches and buildings.
One impressive collection of modern gargoyles can be found at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The cathedral, begun in 1908, is encrusted with the limestone demons. This collection also includes Darth Vader, a crooked politician, robots and many other modern spins on the ancient tradition. The 20th Century collegiate form of the Gothic Revival produced many modern gargoyles, notably at Princeton University, Washington University in St. Louis, Duke University and the University of Chicago.
Gargoyle may also refer to (this list is incomplete):
* Gargoyles (movie), a 1972 made-for-TV horror film.
* Gargoyles (TV series), an animated series that ran from 1994 to 1997.
o Gargoyles (SLG comic), the comic by Slave Labor Graphics based on the television show.
* Gargoyles (novel), a novel by Alan Nayes.
* The Gargoyle (novel), a 2008 debut novel by author Andrew Davidson
* Gargoyle (comics), a Marvel Comics character.
* Gargoyle (Dungeons & Dragons), a kind of monster from the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game.
* Gargoyle, the main villain in the anime series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
* Gargoyle, a Japanese thrash metal band.
In print media:
* The Gargoyle (newspaper), the University of Toronto newspaper.
* Gargoyle Humor Magazine at the University of Michigan.
* Gargoyle Magazine, a Washington, D.C. based literary journal.
* Gargoyle Games, a British software company successful in the 1980s.
* The Oxford Gargoyles, a jazz a cappella group from Oxford University.
* LBD-1 Gargoyle, a guided bomb of World War Two.
* The Gargoyles, a British band.
* S-300, SA-20 GARGOYLE, common name for one variant of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system