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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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for buttress
  • And the whole panoply of addiction research has led to insights that buttress a profusion of therapies.
  • They buttress each other and serve to reinforce each other.
  • It could doubtless do more to buttress the new government, but all this is the work of years.
  • To buttress his defense, he produced several testimonials-the written equivalent of character witnesses.
  • Fidelity may be a buttress of marriage, but it is sometimes a burden on film adaptations.
  • Two further findings buttress the idea that it is the psychological load of decision making which matters.
  • Nor did it buttress its geopolitical interests with tanks.
  • As my crew filled sandbags to buttress our excavations, their shovels uncovered an opening in the rock.
  • But too often here the orchestra chords that buttress the vocal lines were listless.
  • They buttress their cause by letting no government efforts to reach the poor in those regions.
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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