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[stilt] /stɪlt/
one of two poles, each with a support for the foot at some distance above the bottom end, enabling the wearer to walk with his or her feet above the ground.
one of several posts supporting a structure built above the surface of land or water.
Ceramics. a three-armed support for an object being fired.
any of several white-and-black wading birds, especially Cladorhynchus leucocephalus and Himantopus himantopus, having long, bright pink legs and a long, slender black bill.
British Dialect.
  1. a plow handle.
  2. a crutch.
verb (used with object)
to raise on or as if on stilts.
1275-1325; Middle English stilte; cognate with Low German stilte pole, German Stelze
Related forms
stiltlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for stilts
  • And suppose he does walk on rhetorical stilts, he has precedent and will show it to you.
  • Second, it stilts the discussion and has to be done with care and not everyone knows how to do it well.
  • The structure stands on stilts in a park and visitors enter across a long wooden footbridge.
  • As part of the performance piece she also wore a set of stilts with hooves on the end to feel at one with the horse.
  • Farmers in the floodplain build houses and barns on stilts and watch pink dolphins sport from their doorsteps.
  • Using pig hairs as stilts may give ants impressively long strides, but it throws off their step-counting navigational technique.
  • But use such figures in a tally of the money spent on both sides of the legislative fight is nonsense on stilts.
  • On stilts at the end of a pier is a small three-room cabin.
  • She is actually on stilts about six feet in the air.
  • It was a moment during the parade where these people on stilts in metallic costumes with flamers came by.
British Dictionary definitions for stilts


either of a pair of two long poles with footrests on which a person stands and walks, as used by circus clowns
a long post or column that is used with others to support a building above ground level
any of several shore birds of the genera Himantopus and Cladorhynchus, similar to the avocets but having a straight bill
(transitive) to raise or place on or as if on stilts
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: crutch, handle of a plough): related to Low German stilte pole, Norwegian stilta
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 stilts



early 14c., "a crutch," from Proto-Germanic *steltijon (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch stelte "stilt," Old High German stelza "plow handle, crutch"), from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand" (see stall (n.1)). Application to "wooden poles for walking across marshy ground, etc." is from mid-15c. Meaning "one of the posts on which a building is raised from the ground" is first attested 1690s. Stilted in the figurative sense of "pompous, stuffy" is first recorded 1820.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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