noun \ˈbə-trəs\

: a structure built against a wall in order to support or strengthen it

Full Definition of BUTTRESS

:  a projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building
:  something that resembles a buttress: as
a :  a projecting part of a mountain or hill
b :  a horny protuberance on a horse's hoof at the heel — see hoof illustration
c :  the broadened base of a tree trunk or a thickened vertical part of it
:  something that supports or strengthens <a buttress of the cause of peace>
but·tressed \-trəst\ adjective

Examples of BUTTRESS

  1. <the mother had always been the buttress of our family in trying times>
  2. <after the wall collapsed, the construction company agreed to rebuild it with a buttress>

Illustration of BUTTRESS

Origin of BUTTRESS

Middle English butres, from Anglo-French (arche) boteraz thrusting (arch), ultimately from buter to thrust — more at butt
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Architecture Terms

buttress, casita, cornice, fanlight, garret, lintel, parapet, pilaster, plinth



: to support, strengthen, or defend (something)

Full Definition of BUTTRESS

transitive verb
:  to furnish or shore up with a buttress; also :  support, strengthen <arguments buttressed by solid facts>

Examples of BUTTRESS

  1. The treaty will buttress the cause of peace.
  2. The theory has been buttressed by the results of the experiment.

First Known Use of BUTTRESS

14th century

Other Architecture Terms

casita, cornice, fanlight, garret, lintel, parapet, pilaster, plinth


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Exterior support, usually of masonry, projecting from the face of a wall and serving to strengthen it or resist outward thrust from an arch or roof. Buttresses also have a decorative function. Though used since ancient times (Mesopotamian temples featured decorative buttresses, as did Roman and Byzantine structures), they are especially associated with Gothic architecture. See also flying buttress.


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