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

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Other Words from buttress


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

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A buttress is an exterior support projecting from a wall that is used to resist the sideways force, also called thrust, created by the load on an arch or roof. Its name 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." Relatively soon, "buttress" came to be used figuratively for anything that supports or strengthens something else. In addition, it was also in the 14th century that "buttress" was first used as a verb meaning "to support or strengthen," literally and figuratively.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The whole point was to build an imperfect buttress for my own discomfort. Daisy Alioto, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 The Speedster's top unlatches from the windshield and unlocks the buttresses electrically, but the rest of the operation requires human assistance. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, 27 Mar. 2020 The engine can also cool itself better now because of new air ducts in the GT's massive rear buttresses that increase airflow by 50 percent. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, 6 Feb. 2020 In contrast to the sobriety of the shaft, the mooring mast rises 200 feet above the 86th-floor observatory, a glowing glass tube with exuberant Art Deco bird-wing buttresses. James S. Russell, New York Times, 17 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb State investigators discovered the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds’ secret marketing plans to use the cartoon mascot Joe Camel to turn children into smokers, a finding that helped buttress lawsuits against the company and spur lawmakers into action. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, 9 Oct. 2021 All of these verses have been lifted out of context and repurposed to buttress the anti-vaccine movement. John Fea, The Conversation, 4 Oct. 2021 Now, American industry and government must work more closely together to buttress the defenses necessary to thwart these attacks. Matthew F. Ferraro For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 13 Sep. 2021 The commutation application submitted last week by Jones’s defense is packed with affidavits, testimonies and exhibits that aim to distill 20 years of information that will buttress Jones’s claim of innocence. Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2021 Is Cleveland mayoral candidate Kevin Kelley abusing his position as City Council president to buttress his campaign? Laura Johnston, cleveland, 21 Sep. 2021 Voting was framed as not so much a civic duty as a show of faith in the Islamic Revolution, in part because the government has long relied on high voter turnout to buttress its legitimacy. BostonGlobe.com, 19 June 2021 Recent bullish comments from high-profile proponents of cryptocurrencies have helped buttress the price gains. Caitlin Ostroff, WSJ, 26 July 2021 Currently, there is no evidence booster shots are necessary to buttress any of the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and federal health officials do not recommend them at this time. Author: Lindsey Bever, Joel Achenbach, Anchorage Daily News, 9 July 2021

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.

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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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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Buttress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buttress. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for buttress



English Language Learners Definition of buttress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



English Language Learners Definition of buttress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to support, strengthen, or defend (something)


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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