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Buttress (sense 1)
Buttress (sense 3) tree roots of a kapok tree
Milestone Buttress (sense 4) on Tryfan. The direct route is highlighted.

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French ars bouterez (noun, literally supporting arcs), from bouterez (adj), oblique plural of bouteret (rare in the singular), from Frankish *botan, from Proto-Germanic *bautaną (to push). Ultimately cognate with beat.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbʌtɹəs/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbʌtɹɪs/


buttress (plural buttresses)

  1. (architecture) A brick or stone structure built against another structure to support it.
    Synonyms: counterfort, brace
    Hyponym: flying buttress
    Coordinate term: pilaster
  2. (by extension) Anything that serves to support something; a prop.
  3. (botany) A buttress-root.
  4. (climbing) A feature jutting prominently out from a mountain or rock.
    Synonyms: crag, bluff
    Crowell Buttresses, Dismal Buttress
    • 2005, Will Cook, Until Darkness Disappears, page 54:
      All that day they rode into broken land. The prairie with its grass and rolling hills was behind them, and they entered a sparse, dry, rocky country, full of draws and short cañons and ominous buttresses.
    • 2010, Tony Howard, Treks and Climbs in Wadi Rum, Jordan, →ISBN, page 84:
      Two short pitches up a chimney-crack are followed by a traverse right to the centre of the buttress.
  5. (figuratively) Anything that supports or strengthens.
    • 1692 October 30, Robert South, A Further Account of the Nature and Measures of Conscience:
      the grand pillar and buttress of the good old cause of nonconformity

Derived terms[edit]



buttress (third-person singular simple present buttresses, present participle buttressing, simple past and past participle buttressed)

  1. To support something physically with, or as if with, a prop or buttress.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) To support something or someone by supplying evidence.
    Synonyms: corroborate, substantiate
    • 2021 April 14, Diana B. Henriques, “Bernard Madoff, Architect of Largest Ponzi Scheme in History, Is Dead at 82”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Buttressed by elaborate account statements and a deep reservoir of trust from his investors and regulators, Mr. Madoff steered his fraud scheme safely through a severe recession in the early 1990s, a global financial crisis in 1998 and the anxious aftermath of the terrorist attacks in September 2001.


Further reading[edit]