Adapted from Webster's International, 2d ed., 1952:
corbel (kor'bel; -bel), noun Old French (French corbeau), from Latin, corvus. Architecture: a A projection from the face of a wall, supporting a superincumbent weight. A common form of corbel is a single stone or timber set in and projecting from a wall, or a projection consisting of courses of stones or bricks, each projecting slightly beyond the next below it. b A short timber placed lengthwise under a girder to afford a bearing, as on the cap of a trestle.
On Arts and Crafts furniture, a corbel is a bracket attached to a post/leg that supports a component, such as an arm of a Morris Chair, an Apron on a table, etc.
Historically, corbels were employed widely in Gothic architecture. in Gothic architecture, a common form of corbel consists of courses of stones or bricks, each projecting slightly beyond the next below it. Also related is "HANGING-BUTTRESS", i.e., a buttress supported on a corbel.