(French: hillock or rising ground) Flat-topped hill surrounded by a steep cliff, from the bottom of which a slope descends to the plain. The term is sometimes used for an elevation higher than a hill but not high enough to be a mountain. Buttes topped by horizontal platforms of hard rock are characteristic of the arid plateau region of the western U.S. A butte is similar to a mesa but generally smaller; both are created by erosional processes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on butte, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up butte? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.