Five of the Thirteen Archimedean Solids Have Multiple English Names


Four Archimedean Solids with Multiple English Names

I call the polyhedron above the rhombcuboctahedron. Other names for it are the rhombicuboctahedron (note the “i”), the small rhombcuboctahedron, and the small rhombicuboctahedron. Sometimes, the word “small,” when it appears, is put in parentheses. Of these multiple names, all of which I have seen in print, the second one given above is the most common, but I prefer to leave the “i” out, simply to make the word look and sound less like “rhombicosidodecahedron,” one of the polyhedra coming later in this post.

Trunc Cubocta

My preferred name for this polyhedron is the great rhombcuboctahedron, and it is also called the great rhombicuboctahedron. The only difference there is the “i,” and my reasoning for preferring the first name is the same as with its “little brother,” above. However, as with the first polyhedron in this post, the “i”-included version is more common than the name I prefer.

Unfortunately, this second polyhedron has another name, one I intensely dislike, but probably the most popular one of all — the truncated cuboctahedron. Johannes Kepler came up with this name, centuries ago, but there’s a big problem with it: if you truncate a cuboctahedron, you don’t get square faces where the truncated parts are removed. Instead, you get rectangles, and then have to deform the result to turn the rectangles into squares. Other names for this same polyhedron include the rhombitruncated cuboctahedron (given it by Magnus Wenninger) and the omnitruncated cube or cantitruncated cube (both of these names originated with Norman Johnson). My source for the named originators of these names is the Wikipedia article for this polyhedron, and, of course, the sources cited there.


This third polyhedron (which, incidentally, is the one of the thirteen Archimedean solids I find most attractive) is most commonly called the rhombicosidodecahedron. To my knowledge, no one intentionally leaves out the “i” after “rhomb-” in this name, and, for once, the most popular name is also the one I prefer. However, it also has a “big brother,” just like the polyhedron at the top of this post. For that reason, this polyhedron is sometimes called the small rhombicosidodecahedron, or even the (small) rhombicosidodecahedron, parentheses included.

Trunc Icosidodeca

I call this polyhedron the great rhombicosidodecahedron, and many others do as well — that is its second-most-popular name, and identifies it as the “big brother” of the third polyhedron shown in this post. Less frequently, you will find it referred to as the rhombitruncated icosidodecahedron (coined by Wenninger) or the omnitruncated dodecahedron or icosahedron (names given it by Johnson). Again, Wikipedia, and the sources cited there, are my sources for these attributions.

While I don’t use Wenninger’s nor Johnson’s names for this polyhedron, their terms for it don’t bother me, either, for they represent attempts to reduce confusion, rather than increase it. As with the second polyhedron shown above, this confusion started with Kepler, who, in his finite wisdom, called this polyhedron the truncated icosidodecahedron — a name which has “stuck” through the centuries, and is still its most popular name. However, it’s a bad name, unlike the others given it by Wenninger and Johnson. Here’s why: if you truncate an icosidodecahedron (just as with the truncation of a cuboctahedron, described in the commentary about the second polyhedron pictured above), you don’t get the square faces you see here. Instead, the squares come out of the truncation as rectangles, and then edge lengths must be adjusted in order to make all the faces regular, once more. I see that as cheating, and that’s why I wish the name “truncated icosidodecahedron,” along with “truncated cuboctahedron” for the great rhombcuboctahedron, would simply go away.

Here’s the last of the Archimedean solids with more than one English name:

Trunc Cube

Most who recognize this shape, including myself, call it the truncated cube. A few people, though, are extreme purists when it comes to Greek-derived words — worse than me, and I take that pretty far sometimes — and they won’t even call an ordinary (Platonic) cube a cube, preferring “hexahedron,” instead. These same people, predictably, call this Archimedean solid the truncated hexahedron. They are, technically, correct, I must admit. However, with the cube being, easily, the polyhedron most familiar to the general public, almost none of whom know, let alone use, the word “hexahedron,” this alternate term for the truncated cube will, I am certain, never gain much popularity.

It is unfortunate that five of the thirteen Archimedean solids have multiple names, for learning to spell and pronounce just one name for each of them would be task enough. Unlike in the field of chemistry, however, geometricians have no equivalent to the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists), the folks who, among other things, select official, permanent names and symbols for newly-synthesized elements. For this reason, the multiple-name problem for certain polyhedra isn’t going away, any time soon.

(Image credit:  a program called Stella 4d, available at, was used to create all of the pictures in this post.)

A Rhombcuboctahedron, with Its Square Faces Augmented By Hexacontakaitriacosioigonal Prisms, Together with Two Views of the Convex Hull of That Augmented Polyhedron


A Rhombcuboctahedron, with Its Square Faces Augmented By Hexacontakaitriacosioigonal Prisms

The eighteen regular prisms (whose bases each have 360 sides) augmenting the square faces of the rhombcuboctahedron hidden in the center, above, can be oriented in more than one way. I simply chose the orientation I liked best.

After that, I took the convex hull of the figure above, just to see what would happen. With each different face type having a different color, it looks like this (click to enlarge either or both images below, if you wish):

Convex hull

I then chose a different color-scheme. Instead of giving faces of each type a different color, I colored the faces by their number of sides. This led to a more pleasing result:

Convex hugll

The things that look like rounded yellow rectangles are an illusion; polyhedra don’t have curved faces. They are actually numerous thin, adjacent, near-coplanar rectangles with the same color.

All three images were created with Stella 4d, software available at


Slow Dissection of a Loosely-Defined “Faceted” Rhombcuboctahedron


If you look at the second image from the post two entries ago, and wonder what it would look like without the pink faces, wonder no longer: it’s what you see above.

Next, the red polygons are hidden, and this is what is left (you may click these smaller images if you wish to enlarge them).

RCO faceting another with red gone

The green faces are hidden next.

RCO faceting another with red gone and now green gone

The next step is to remove the pink faces visible in the interior.

RCO faceting another with red gone and now green gone and now interior pink gone

Next, removal of the blue faces leaves only the yellow ones left.

RCO faceting another with red gone and now green gone and now interior pink gone only yellow left now

The last step:  change the color scheme, so as to more easily be able to tell one face from another.

RCO faceting another with red gone and now green gone and now interior pink gone only yellow left now new colors

All of this polyhedron-manipulation, I did with Stella 4d, software I consider an indispensable research-tool. It is available at

Base/Dual Compound: The Rhombcuboctahedron and the Strombic Icositetrahedron


Base/Dual Compound:  The Rhombcuboctahedron and the Strombic Icositetrahedron

Alternate names for components of this compound are the rhombicuboctahedron and the kited icositetrahedron.

For more information on the software used to produce this image, please visit