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but·​tress ˈbə-trəs How to pronounce buttress (audio)
architecture : a projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building
: something that resembles a buttress: such as
: a projecting part of a mountain or hill
biology : a horny protuberance on a horse's hoof at the heel see hoof illustration
botany : 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
buttressed adjective

Illustration of buttress

Illustration of buttress
  • buttress 1


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buttressed; buttressing; buttresses

transitive verb

architecture : to give support or stability to (a wall or building) with a projecting structure of masonry or wood : to furnish or shore up with a buttress (see buttress entry 1 sense 1)
also : support, strengthen
arguments buttressed by solid facts

Did you know?

In architecture, a buttress is an exterior support that projects from a wall to resist the sideways force, called thrust, created by the load on an arch or roof. The word buttress was first adopted into English as butres in the 14th century. It came to us from the Anglo-French (arche) boteraz, meaning "thrusting (arch)," and ultimately derives from the verb buter, "to thrust." Buter is also the source of our verb butt, meaning "to thrust, push, or strike with the head or horns." Buttress developed figurative use relatively soon after its adoption, being applied to anything that supports or strengthens something else.

Examples of buttress in a Sentence

Noun the mother had always been the buttress of our family in trying times after the wall collapsed, the construction company agreed to rebuild it with a buttress Verb The treaty will buttress the cause of peace. The theory has been buttressed by the results of the experiment.
Recent Examples on the Web
And its padded patella buttress helps to offer knee stability. Jack Byram, Verywell Health, 15 Sep. 2023 The sweeping buttresses beneath an oversized, carbon-fiber hardtop. Howard Walker, Robb Report, 21 July 2023 Flying buttresses, which look like half an arch, ingeniously redistribute weight from a higher, heavier level, to a lower, more solid level. Kate McGregor, House Beautiful, 14 July 2023 To be sure, the Chinese presence reduces U.S. influence and buttresses authoritarian regimes with diplomatic support and new surveillance technology. Daniel S. Markey, Foreign Affairs, 19 Oct. 2021 If elevators were what enabled us to build skyscrapers, then flying buttresses made Gothic cathedrals possible. Kate McGregor, House Beautiful, 14 July 2023 By the end of World War I, however, most governments had come around to the idea that passports were an essential buttress of national security. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, 12 Aug. 2022 Flying buttresses soar from the sides of the church. Rick Steves, Chicago Tribune, 13 June 2023 The tools can help stop crime and terror attacks but can also become an undemocratic buttress of political power. Adam Satariano, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2023
But the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to hold rates at an elevated level is likely to buttress the dollar in foreign exchange markets. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2023 But the Western world is now confronted with an undesirable but inescapable choice: allowing a land-hungry despot to upset the European order, with deleterious (and expensive) consequences, or buttressing Kyiv. The Editors, National Review, 20 Sep. 2023 Environmental groups point to research from scientists like Spada and Ostro as evidence that more regulation is needed, and some believe A.I. techniques could help buttress lawmaking efforts. Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Firing at distant Russian targets could reflect a Ukrainian tactic of stretching the Kremlin’s military resources as Moscow scrambles to buttress its air defenses, said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for Military Aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Susie Blann and Dasha Litvinova, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Aug. 2023 Walker's first opportunity to buttress his ever-growing legacy comes against an experienced Ball State offensive line (66 starts among players in the unit) that excelled last season, permitting just 3.6 tackles for loss per game (fifth-best rate in the FBS) and only 12 sacks. Ryan Black, The Courier-Journal, 28 Aug. 2023 Battery storage – critical to buttressing intermittent renewables like wind and solar – is poised for a similar boom. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 July 2023 Their efforts have been buttressed after obtaining a veto-proof majority in the House in April—thanks to the defection of a Democrat. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 3 July 2023 That survey, completed by the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, was buttressed by a recent count by the Downtown San Diego Partnership that found a record 2,100 people living on sidewalks and vehicles just in downtown. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'buttress.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English butres, from Anglo-French (arche) boteraz thrusting (arch), ultimately from buter to thrust — more at butt entry 3

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of buttress was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near buttress

Cite this Entry

“Buttress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buttress. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
but·​tress ˈbə-trəs How to pronounce buttress (audio)
: a structure built against a wall or building to give support and strength
: something that supports, props, or strengthens


2 of 2 verb
: to support with or as if with a buttress

More from Merriam-Webster on buttress

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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