pi·​las·​ter pi-ˈla-stər How to pronounce pilaster (audio) ˈpī-ˌla- How to pronounce pilaster (audio)
: an upright architectural member that is rectangular in plan and is structurally a pier but architecturally treated as a column and that usually projects a third of its width or less from the wall

Illustration of pilaster

Illustration of pilaster
  • 1 pilaster

Example Sentences

the rectangular pilasters spaced along the building's facade lend an air of classical grandeur
Recent Examples on the Web Owners’ bath Fluted pilasters with gold capitals frame the tub under foot-thick crown molding. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, 11 Apr. 2020 The blueprints showed that these rooftop decorations, known as antefixes, were in fact baseballs, ornaments that echoed the baseball-adorned terra-cotta spandrels above the pilasters. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2020 The two surviving levels of iron were an elaborate assemblage of around 1,000 individual castings representing some 30 distinct architectural elements — everything from 2,500-pound pilaster sections to individual flowers on column capitals. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2019 Characteristics of its Georgian Colonial style include its long, rectangular shape with an orderly symmetrical façade, and the paneled door with pediment, transom lights, and pilasters — all reflecting an interest in classicism. Nico Amarca, Marie Claire, 21 Oct. 2019 The entire home has chateau quality finishes — mass walls, pilasters and lots of cherry. Mark Samuelson, The Denver Post, 18 Oct. 2019 The structure is notable for its exterior Corinthian columns and pilasters. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, 6 Feb. 2018 The structure is notable for its exterior Corinthian columns and pilasters. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, 6 Feb. 2018 Africa’s future is the new station a short drive away, a yellow-and-white edifice with grand pilasters, arched windows and a broad flagstone square. Jonathan Kaiman, latimes.com, 4 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Word History


Middle French pilastre, from Italian pilastro

First Known Use

1573, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pilaster was in 1573

Dictionary Entries Near pilaster

Cite this Entry

“Pilaster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pilaster. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


pi·​las·​ter ˈpī-ˌlas-tər How to pronounce pilaster (audio)
: an upright rectangular column that ornaments or helps to support a wall from which it sticks out slightly

Medical Definition


pi·​las·​ter pi-ˈlas-tər How to pronounce pilaster (audio)
: an elongated hardened ridge
especially : a longitudinal bony ridge on the back of the femur

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