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.).

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

buttressless, adjective
buttresslike, adjective
nonbuttressed, adjective
unbuttressed, adjective

6. encourage, hearten, support, inspirit, brace, back up, reinforce, shore up.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
buttress (ˈbʌtrɪs)
1.  See also flying buttress Also called: pier a construction, usually of brick or stone, built to support a wall
2.  any support or prop
3.  something shaped like a buttress, such as a projection from a mountainside
4.  either of the two pointed rear parts of a horse's hoof
5.  to support (a wall) with a buttress
6.  to support or sustain
[C13: from Old French bouterez, short for ars bouterez thrusting arch, from bouter to thrust, butt³]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from O.Fr. botrez "flying buttress," lit. "buttressed," pl. of boteret "support," from bouter "to thrust against," of Frankish origin (cf. O.N. bauta "to strike, beat"), from P.Gmc. *butan, from PIE base *bhau- "to strike" (see butt (v.)). The verb is from late 14c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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.
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