pil·​lar | \ˈpi-lər \

Definition of pillar 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a firm upright support for a superstructure : post

b : a usually ornamental column or shaft especially : one standing alone for a monument

2a : a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or part a pillar of society

b : a fundamental precept the five pillars of Islam

3 : a solid mass of coal, rock, or ore left standing to support a mine roof

4 : a body part that resembles a column

from pillar to post

: from one place or one predicament to another


pillared; pillaring; pillars

Definition of pillar (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to provide or strengthen with or as if with pillars

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Other Words from pillar


pillarless adjective

Examples of pillar in a Sentence


the ancient Greek temple boasted graceful marble pillars with richly ornamented tops my father has been my pillar throughout this crisis

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some find benefits in stories While testimonials aren't considered one of the pillars of prevention, Zach Levin believes his own story is an important part of his outreach with youth. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "Do those real-life addiction stories really keep kids off drugs?," 12 July 2018 With pensions disappearing and the stock market gyrating, Social Security — even with all of its problems — remains the most stable retirement pillar for perhaps 85 percent of the population. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, "Women Outlive Men. Why Do They Retire Earlier?," 6 July 2018 That would be a major blow to one of the fundamental pillars of the Trump administration’s approach toward North Korea. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "China might have already begun the US-China trade war," 5 July 2018 The compromise bill being voted on Wednesday is designed to meet each of the four pillars of a White House immigration overhaul blueprint. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, "GOP Leaders Prepare for Rejection of Latest Immigration Bill," 26 June 2018 That approach is one of the key pillars of American Express’ business model, predicated on its ability to charge the higher fees because AmEx has the higher income shoppers retailers and other businesses covet. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Supreme Court Defends American Express Business Model In Blow to Retailers," 25 June 2018 One of the pillars of Detroit rock is now a Georgia resident: The singer born Bill Levise left Michigan last year for Georgia to be closer to his wife's family. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Upcoming Detroit concerts: Sam Smith, Imagine Dragons, Willie Nelson, more," 21 June 2018 Media: JW Player Surging waters shifted the river’s channel and walloped the southbound span’s supports, scouring away much of the material at the base of the pillars. Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, "Southbound I-69 at San Jacinto Bridge to open Monday," 21 June 2018 Franklin said the library will honor the summer solstice on June 21 because the midday effect of the pillars is most pronounced on that day. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Sneak peek: Renovated Burton Barr library set to reopen after flood damage," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The former governor of California took the oak in the marble pillared chambers of the Supreme Court. Sacbee, sacbee.com, "Warren sworn in as U.S. chief justice," 19 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of pillar


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1787, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pillar


Middle English piler, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin pilare, from Latin pila

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Statistics for pillar

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pillar

The first known use of pillar was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for pillar



English Language Learners Definition of pillar

: a large post that helps to hold up something (such as a roof)

: someone who is an important member of a group

: a basic fact, idea, or principle of something


pil·​lar | \ˈpi-lər \

Kids Definition of pillar

1 : a large post that supports something (as a roof)

2 : a single column built as a monument

3 : a supporting or important member or part He was a pillar of society.

4 : something that resembles a column in shape pillars of smoke


pil·​lar | \ˈpil-ər \

Medical Definition of pillar 

: a body part likened to a pillar or column (as the margin of the external inguinal ring) specifically : pillar of the fauces

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Comments on pillar

What made you want to look up pillar? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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