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[buh-tris] /ˈbʌ trɪs/
any external prop or support built to steady a structure by opposing its outward thrusts, especially a projecting support built into or against the outside of a masonry wall.
any prop or support.
a thing shaped like a buttress, as a tree trunk with a widening base.
a bony or horny protuberance, especially on a horse's hoof.
verb (used with object)
to support by a buttress; prop up.
to give encouragement or support to (a person, plan, etc.).
Origin of buttress
1350-1400; Middle English butresOld French (arc) boterez thrusting (arch) nominative singular of boteret (accusative), equivalent to boter- abutment (perhaps < Germanic; see butt3) + -et -et
Related forms
buttressless, adjective
buttresslike, adjective
nonbuttressed, adjective
unbuttressed, adjective
6. encourage, hearten, support, inspirit, brace, back up, reinforce, shore up. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for buttress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the buttress foot a sheep-walk goes along the scarp—see, you can follow it from here in the dry grass.

  • I was a mother and a home-maker and the hope and buttress of the future.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
  • And drawing his cutlass from his belt, Michael bounded round the buttress behind which the young girl had promised to wait.

    Michael Strogoff Jules Verne
  • I got astride of the buttress, and painfully forced my way up.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • Guapo, in front of the mule, now ran forward upon the ledge, and looked round the buttress of rock.

    The Forest Exiles Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for buttress


Also called pier. a construction, usually of brick or stone, built to support a wall See also flying buttress
any support or prop
something shaped like a buttress, such as a projection from a mountainside
either of the two pointed rear parts of a horse's hoof
verb (transitive)
to support (a wall) with a buttress
to support or sustain
Word Origin
C13: from Old French bouterez, short for ars bouterez thrusting arch, from bouter to thrust, butt³
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for buttress

early 14c., from Old French (arc) botrez "flying buttress," apparently from bouter "to thrust against," of Frankish origin (cf. Old Norse bauta "to strike, beat"), from Proto-Germanic *butan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike" (see butt (v.)).


late 14c., literal and figurative, from buttress (n.). Related: Buttressed; buttressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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