noun Architecture.

a shallow rectangular feature projecting from a wall, having a capital and base and usually imitating the form of a column.

Origin of pilaster

1565–75; pile1 (in obsolete sense “pillar”) + -aster1, modeled on Italian pilastro or Medieval Latin pīlastrum
Related formsun·der·pi·las·ter, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pilaster

Historical Examples of pilaster

  • The compartments are divided by a shallow Buttress or Pilaster Strip.

  • The Duke of Somerset took the most sensible course and went to sleep, leaning against a pilaster, immediately after dinner.

  • The marble of the pilaster, against which he leaned, was not more cold and unmoved than the face of the inquisitor.

    The Bravo

    J. Fenimore Cooper

  • The usual Norman pilaster buttresses are apparent at the angles and in the centres of three of the faces.

    British Castles

    Charles H. Ashdown

  • The soffit of the arch is carved, and the face of the pilaster below has a very rich and graceful vine arabesque upon it.

    The Shores of the Adriatic

    F. Hamilton Jackson

British Dictionary definitions for pilaster



a shallow rectangular column attached to the face of a wall
Derived Formspilastered, adjective

Word Origin for pilaster

C16: from French pilastre, from Latin pīla pillar
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

Word Origin and History for pilaster

a square column, 1570s, from Middle French pilastre (1540s), from Italian pilastro, from Medieval Latin pilastrum (mid-14c.), from pila, "buttress, pile" (from Latin pila, see pillar) + Latin -aster, suffix "expressing incomplete resemblance" [Barnhart].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper