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What is the etymological origin of the word "ell" in its meaning (according to American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition) "A wing of a building at right angles to the main structure"?

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    The letter "L" = a shape with a long main axis, with a shorter extension at a right angle to the main. The word "ell": how you pronounce the name of the letter.
    – Hellion
    Feb 27 '13 at 23:23
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    Similar words can be found in the dictionary for other letters, like ess, jay, tee, vee, and zee, which can refer to the letter, or be occasionally used as a noun or adjective to describe something shaped like the letter. My favorite is aitch.
    – J.R.
    Feb 27 '13 at 23:28
  • I can't closevote as General Reference, so I've chosen Off Topic. As @Hellion says, it's a trivial metaphoric reference to the shape of the letter. You more commonly talk of an L lounge being that shape (often because it's a lounge/diner with the dining table out of sight round the corner from the main sofa). Feb 28 '13 at 4:02
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    Etymonline says: type of building extension, 1773, American English; so called for resemblance to the shape of the alphabet letter.
    – user230
    Feb 28 '13 at 20:37
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It is purely observational. The wing makes the building look like an L from above.

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Etymonline says: type of building extension, 1773, American English; so called for resemblance to the shape of the alphabet letter.