See more synonyms for tier on Thesaurus.com
  1. one of a series of rows or ranks rising one behind or above another, as of seats in an amphitheater, boxes in a theater, guns in a man-of-war, or oars in an ancient galley.
  2. one of a number of galleries, as in a theater.
  3. a layer; level; stratum: The wedding cake had six tiers. All three tiers of the firm's management now report to one director.
  4. Australian. a mountain range.
verb (used with object)
  1. to arrange in tiers.
verb (used without object)
  1. to rise in tiers.

Origin of tier

1560–70; earlier also tire, tyre, teare < Middle French, Old French tire, tiere order, row, rank < Germanic; compare Old English, Old Saxon tīr, Old High German zēri glory, adornment


  1. a person or thing that ties.
  2. Nautical. a short rope or band for securing a furled sail.
  3. New England. a child's apron or pinafore.

Origin of tier

First recorded in 1625–35; tie + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tier

Contemporary Examples of tier

Historical Examples of tier

  • Then they ran along the second tier of roofs beneath the open heavens.

  • The porters arranged them symmetrically, tier by tier, on the vehicles.

  • Everybody in the yawl was eagerly looking after the form of Tier.

  • When we got into dock we had lost our turn for loading, and they hauled us off to a tier where we remained for a month.


    Joseph Conrad

  • "It's steep to-night," he mutters, as tier on tier of cloud drops under.

    With The Night Mail

    Rudyard Kipling

British Dictionary definitions for tier


  1. one of a set of rows placed one above and behind the other, such as theatre seats
    1. a layer or level
    2. (in combination)a three-tier cake
  2. a rank, order, or row
  1. to be or arrange in tiers

Word Origin for tier

C16: from Old French tire rank, of Germanic origin; compare Old English tīr embellishment


  1. a person or thing that ties
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 tier

"row, rank, range," 1560s, from Middle French tire, from Old French tire "rank, sequence, order" (early 13c.), probably from tirer "to draw, draw out" (see tirade). Some suggests the French noun is from a Germanic source akin to Old High German ziari, German Zier "adornment," Old English tir "glory, honor."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper