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Projecting beam or other horizontal member supported at one or more points but not at both ends. Some engineers distinguish between a cantilever, supported at only one fixed end, and an overhanging beam that projects beyond one of its end supports. The free, unsupported end is capable of supporting a weight or surface, such as a concrete slab. Any beam built into a wall with a projecting free end forms a cantilever, which may carry a balcony, canopy, roof, or part of a building above. Cantilevering can be used for constructions as simple as bookshelves or as complicated as bridges.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cantilever, visit Britannica.com.