but·​tress | \ ˈbə-trəs How to pronounce buttress (audio) \

Definition of buttress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 architecture : a projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building
2 : something that resembles a buttress: such as
a : a projecting part of a mountain or hill
b biology : a horny protuberance on a horse's hoof at the heel — see hoof illustration
c botany : the broadened base of a tree trunk or a thickened vertical part of it
3 : something that supports or strengthens a buttress of the cause of peace


buttressed; buttressing; buttresses

Definition of buttress (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Illustration of buttress

Illustration of buttress


buttress 1

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from buttress


buttressed \ ˈbə-​trəst How to pronounce buttress (audio) \ adjective

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: Noun He was attracted to the backyard view of the buttress, which looks more like a lush hillside than a strategy to keep landslides at bay. Hannah Frystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 2022 It was advertised as a stately financial district and as a buttress to stop the rapid erosion of Victoria Island’s shoreline. Maggie Andresen, Scientific American, 17 Dec. 2021 Scientists have discovered a series of worrying weaknesses in the ice shelf holding back one of Antarctica’s most dangerous glaciers, suggesting that this important buttress against sea level rise could shatter within the next three to five years. Sarah Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Dec. 2021 This promotion has been broadly criticized as a fever dream conceived in the memetic bowels of the internet and as a convenient buttress for bad arguments against vaccination. James Heathers, The Atlantic, 23 Oct. 2021 Yet the detrimental impact of canceling football, which is the economic buttress of many athletic departments, would have rippled across college sports. Jason Wingard, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 In addition to saving power overall, this feature acts as a buttress to support all the other power-intensive operations the GeForce laptops perform without overtaxing the system. Lynne Peskoe-yang, Popular Mechanics, 27 May 2021 These nonscholarly mentions buttress reports that open access enables a broader audience, beyond the core scientific community, to read research findings. Jeffrey Brainard, Science | AAAS, 1 Jan. 2021 At their base are permanent floating ice shelves that act as a buttress to the fast-flowing ice behind it. Helen Regan, CNN, 15 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Investors were surprised Thursday because they’ve been conditioned to believe the Fed will always come through with a put to buttress the market. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 The fines will buttress the public perception that while ordinary Britons faced severe restrictions on socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the premier and his aides were partying in government buildings. Emily Ashton, Fortune, 12 Apr. 2022 What further additions and subtractions among the rest of the team need to happen to buttress their particular games? … and 2) what kind of market is there for Mitchell and Gobert, which is to ask, what could the Jazz get in return? Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 The company and its supporters argue that building the $1.4-billion desalination plant would buttress local water supplies and make the area more resilient. Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Still, Russia’s efforts to buttress its war machinery with repair and resupply capabilities are unlikely to solve its overarching problems, the official said. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2022 The legislation would provide $13.6 billion to help Ukraine resist Russia's invasion and to buttress NATO allies worried about Russian President Vladimir Putin's next move. Arkansas Online, 12 Mar. 2022 However, the impact of the economic measures has faded over time, analysts say, and regular efforts to buttress the sanctions have divided the bloc. James Marson, WSJ, 16 Dec. 2021 The Times went to great lengths to reconstruct the target's final day, using surveillance camera footage and satellite images and other methods to buttress traditional interviews. Brian Stelter, CNN, 12 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'buttress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of buttress


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for buttress

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for buttress

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near buttress

butt plate



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Statistics for buttress

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Buttress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buttress. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for buttress


but·​tress | \ ˈbə-trəs How to pronounce buttress (audio) \

Kids Definition of buttress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a structure built against a wall or building to give support and strength
2 : something that supports, props, or strengthens


buttressed; buttressing

Kids Definition of buttress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to support or strengthen : to support with or as if with a buttress

More from Merriam-Webster on buttress

Nglish: Translation of buttress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of buttress for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about buttress


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