I once heard a fellow boast that he had a gargoyle on his porch roof, right over the front door. I winced, first because putting a large stone over a door on a wooden building was a potential hazard, and secondly because I had a mental image of how his guests would be soaked through every time it rained.

Gargoyle, you see, actually means "waterspout". It's related to the words "gurgle", "gargle", and "Gargantua", being a "throat" through which water passes. It's a European architectural term, which some younger Americans have taken to mean "winged stone monster". If you decide to emulate Gothic cathedrals in extending your aluminum rain conduit several feet away from the building, you, too, can have a resident gargoyle.

It does not mean devil, demon, dragon, or "way-cool carving that can't possibly mean anything Christian, because it's ugly and too way-cool."

It doesn't mean "winged and horned carving that's more way-cool than your usual carving". That's a grotesque. 'Strix', the winged and horned grotesque of Notre Dame de Paris, is neither very large (about one meter in height) nor is it a prominent feature of the building, it's quite high up. For the normal person who goes looking for prominent carvings, the ones that most immediately strike the eye are "Adam" and "Eve", right over the doors. Sorry if you can't find some nice convenient pagan myth about that. It's a church.

There are Cow gargoyles. Peasant, pilgrim and Beggar gargoyles. Cat, cheetah, lion, and dog gargoyles, even purely functional abstract gargoyles.

Some people say that they're ugly to ward off "evil spirits" from the church. They can't (according to Medieval thinking) be warding off "evil spirits", because the Presence of the Lord (in the Reserved Eucharist in the Tabernacle) is sufficient to ward off ALL evil.

The reason why gargoyles are ugly is because their job is to vomit. Rainwater, that is, onto the flagstones below. Don't know how "decorative" Notre Dame's gargoyles are, except I saw them spouting in Paris, and I've been told that those of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's in New York, are also fully operational.

If "gargoyle" sounds more fun than "grotesque" or "Strix", than so be it.

But it still doesn't mean that fun carvings that don't spout water, no matter how cool they look, are gargoyles.