A space under the floor of an ancient Roman building through which flue gases from a furnace were passed to heat a room or a bath.
[Latin hypocaustum, from Greek hupokauston, from hupokaiein, to light a fire beneath : hupo-, hypo- + kaiein, to burn.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.