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[pil-er] /ˈpɪl ər/
an upright shaft or structure, of stone, brick, or other material, relatively slender in proportion to its height, and of any shape in section, used as a building support, or standing alone, as for a monument:
Gothic pillars; a pillar to commemorate Columbus.
a natural formation resembling such a construction:
a pillar of rock; a pillar of smoke.
any upright, supporting part; post:
the pillar of a table.
a person who is a chief supporter of a society, state, institution, etc.:
a pillar of the community.
Horology. any of several short parts for spacing and keeping in the proper relative positions two plates holding the bearings of a watch or clock movement.
Mining. an isolated mass of rock or ore in a mine, usually serving as a roof support in early operations and later removed, wholly or in part.
Nautical. mast1 (def 2).
verb (used with object)
to provide or support with pillars.
from pillar to post,
  1. aimlessly from place to place.
  2. uneasily from one bad situation or predicament to another.
Origin of pillar
1175-1225; Middle English pillare < Medieval Latin pīlāre (see pile1, -ar2); replacing earlier piler < Old French < Medieval Latin, as above
Related forms
pillared, adjective
pillarlike, adjective
unpillared, adjective
Can be confused
pillar, pillory, pillow.
1. pilaster, pier.
Synonym Study
1. See column. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pillar
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When LOT swapped his wife away for a pillar of salt, the trade was free.

  • Behind it, at the corner of a pillar, was an ever-burning altar-lamp.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • In an hour we can raise a pillar of ice ten feet high, and that is quite enough.

    The Field of Ice Jules Verne
  • Crowded against the pillar I could not escape and so tried to appear unconcerned.

    City of Endless Night Milo Hastings
  • They threatened between them to fix her there in a pillar of snow.

    Heather and Snow George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for pillar


an upright structure of stone, brick, metal, etc, that supports a superstructure or is used for ornamentation
something resembling this in shape or function: a pillar of stones, a pillar of smoke
a tall, slender, usually sheer rock column, forming a separate top
a prominent supporter: a pillar of the Church
from pillar to post, from one place to another
(transitive) to support with or as if with pillars
Word Origin
C13: from Old French pilier, from Latin pīla; see pile1
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 pillar

c.1200, from Old French piler "pillar, column, pier" (12c., Modern French pilier) and directly from Medieval Latin pilare, from Latin pila "pillar, stone barrier." Figurative sense of "prop or support of an institution or community" is first recorded early 14c. Phrase pillar to post is c.1600, originally of tennis, exact meaning obscure.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pillar in Medicine

pillar pil·lar (pĭl'ər)
A structure or part that provides support and resembles a column or pillar.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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