Definition of buttress in English:



  • 1A structure of stone or brick built against a wall to strengthen or support it.

    ‘the cathedral's massive buttresses’
    • ‘You will notice the buttresses, the porch, the crenellations on the walls, and the four light mullioned windows.’
    • ‘They saw huge caverns, their roofs supported by great natural buttresses and pillars of rock.’
    • ‘The remnant of a long-disused church building, it was built out of solid stone with massive buttresses supporting long, high walls.’
    • ‘The trunks of some of the trees were three times the girth of anything in Europe, and many had enormous walls of wood sprouting from their bases like the buttresses of gothic cathedrals.’
    • ‘This is no ordinary brick arch and buttress structure.’
    • ‘The path goes up by the left side of the main buttress in front of you.’
    • ‘The frame acquired the architectural elements of its churchlike structure: columns, cornices, arches and traceries, buttresses, ornate roundels like rose windows.’
    • ‘The pub itself has been strengthened by buttresses to stop the subsidence worsening, and survived the tremor unscathed.’
    • ‘The tower was built of massive columns, great white pillars, supported by beams and buttresses.’
    • ‘There are vertical walls with jagged buttresses, sweeping canyons, arches, narrow gullies and fissures in the rock that develop into caves at the waterline.’
    • ‘The handsome and much-photographed chimneys doubled as buttresses for added roof support.’
    • ‘Up here, suspended dizzyingly more than 100 feet above the ground, it is easy to see how the great stone buttresses that support the magnificent cathedral have been eroded by time.’
    • ‘Typical of its period is the way the upper parts of the walls step back above the buttresses before reaching a straight parapet.’
    • ‘Great stone buttresses stood on either side of the wall, giving support to the monumental structure and framing the temple grounds themselves.’
    • ‘The contrast is jaw-dropping; architectural values have been binned, and walls, windows and buttresses bunged in anywhere simply to prop up the facade at the front.’
    • ‘Around the perimeter, massive brick buttresses provide lateral restraint.’
    • ‘This emphasised that the structure is not in fact circular, but built in straight segments that may indicate radial walls or buttresses.’
    • ‘I leaned against the damp stone of the buttress, tilting my head to follow the line of the sheer wall up to where the ghosts of clouds raced before the moon.’
    • ‘Kain thanked the man and followed the directions, coming to a thickly built stone building with buttresses and smaller towers extending several stories above where the main building ended.’
    • ‘Very slender and elegant precast concrete arches span the space to bear on buttresses so massive that they provide alcoves off the big central space, the social heart of the academic community.’
    prop, support, abutment, shore, pier, reinforcement, stanchion, stay, strut
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    1. 1.1A projecting portion of a hill or mountain.
      • ‘I suggested we descend an intermediate ridge, cut across the western cirque, climb the northwest buttress of Cloud Peak, circle around, and complete the entire enchainment in the reverse direction.’
      • ‘A big drop followed, down over rough rock and scree to the Bealach an Fhuarian from where a great greyish-white buttress reared alarmingly.’
      • ‘Then I look back at the mountain, but the clouds have descended and the buttresses have disappeared.’
      • ‘Return to the cairn and carry on up to the North Peak, where you can look down over the buttresses.’
      • ‘I know there are innumerably more adventurous routes that trace their way by gully and buttress, ridge and groove up the massive north-east face of the Ben.’
      • ‘The beauty of the southeast buttress of Cathedral Peak is that it's all on, and it's all beautiful, classic, and fun.’
      • ‘About five metres beyond the second, you'll see a shelf about head height on a buttress formed where a thin inlet enters.’
      • ‘Near the head of the loch I pitched my tent in splendid, silent solitude on a grassy terrace beneath rocky buttresses and towering ridges.’
      • ‘Just south lies the brooding notched ridge of Chlas Glas and Bla Bheinn, a great wall of spires, gullies and buttresses.’
      • ‘In spring, peregrines often nest near The Main Area or Red Slab and these buttresses should be avoided at this time.’
      • ‘We ate dried peaches, swigged iodized alpine water, and stared up at the pyramid-shaped northwest buttress of Cloud Peak.’
      • ‘Its position below the buttresses and ridges of Ben Nevis' convoluted north-east face really is outstanding.’
      • ‘Soon the views of the great buttresses and ridges and gullies of the north-east face begin to open up.’
      • ‘Pass above the steep buttresses to the summit then descend the Sron a’ Gharbh Choire Bhig back to your starting point.’
      • ‘Lion's Head stands to the north of Table Mountain, and the Apostles are the rocky buttresses behind it.’
      • ‘Hiking out, we talked about our ascent of the northwest buttress of Cloud Peak, trying to sound congratulatory.’
      • ‘Across the valley the mute, cloud-shrouded buttresses of Johannesburg Mountain wait like ghosts.’
      • ‘The high cliffs are riven and seared by gullies, prominent ridges, towers and buttresses.’
      • ‘After scaling a relatively easy 3,000-foot buttress and traversing a huge glacial plateau below the main face, the climbers will stash most of their gear.’
      • ‘A grassy bay separates this buttress from the fine slabs on Cir Mhor's SW face.’
  • 2A source of defence or support.

    ‘the political police were the main buttress of the regime’
    • ‘You'll simmer them quickly in their own juices with onion, garlic, and fresh basil, gentle buttresses for their full, robust flavor.’
    • ‘The clergy did not do so because English kings were the protectors of the faith against heretics and a buttress against anticlerical attack.’
    • ‘For the first time in human history the inferior man has no ready buttress for his self-regard.’
    • ‘Male conservatives can then quote female operatives, using the sex of the original messenger as a buttress against similar complaints.’
    • ‘Property and financial prosperity were powerful testimonies to the strength of each of these categories and a buttress to weak claims to either.’
    • ‘These statements only underscore the extent to which the unions and NDP are buttresses of the existing social order.’
    • ‘The Church is called a pillar and buttress because there are many local churches throughout the world performing this function.’
    • ‘In these short few weeks the coach must re-shape - he vehemently contests the description ‘rebuild’ - Rangers, with a new midfield, attack, and a defensive buttress or two.’
    • ‘At every stage in a fairytale life, the stoic sensible lovely Lancashire lass has been Tom's buttress, giving unstinting support and keeping his feet firmly on the ground.’
    • ‘Stallman thus launched his movement to build a buttress against this trend, by developing a free operating system within which the freedoms he had known could continue.’
    • ‘The ‘truth’ becomes another buttress in the society's ideological infrastructure.’
    • ‘The main buttress of state security is the national defense capability and only after it comes the economic might.’
    • ‘Chad was seen as a buttress against Libya.’
    • ‘Even ‘reverence for the emperor, the most important ideological buttress of the old order, was evidently giving way’.’
    • ‘As a buttress of the ugly martial law regime, it wrecked many more lives than those of these two kidnappers.’
    • ‘It means he can defend his own defence, with Nerlinger providing the buttress to protect the centre-backs.’
    • ‘They were a more effective buttress of the Crown than its own bureaucracy or civil service.’


  • 1Provide (a building or structure) with buttresses.

    ‘a buttressed wall’
    • ‘Preparing for all these people, and buttressing runways for a plane that can weigh 544 tonnes on takeoff, is not cheap.’
    • ‘All the televisions were tuned to the Weather Channel and workers buttressed the hotel's smoked-glass windows with sheets of plywood.’
    • ‘A protective structure adapted to buttress opposed upright walls of an excavation.’
    • ‘Rafters were cut into mortised joints at the ridge, and braces buttress the walls in every direction.’
    • ‘It is more economical to buttress it at certain intervals than to make the entire wall thicker.’
    • ‘For example, huge ‘flying shores’ had to be fitted to buttress the structure against movement.’
    • ‘High, spidery scaffolding buttressed its walls on both sides, and though there was no one working now, Pres could see pails and rags scattered along the planking.’
    • ‘Although these thrusts can be resolved by tensile reinforcing in the perimeter beams it is simplest, and most natural, and stable to use the building itself to buttress the horizontal thrusts.’
    • ‘The outer walls were buttressed with typical large blocks while within, they were fashioned from small unfinished stones mortared into place, reminding one of a traditional castle or keep in Avalon or Torrencia.’
    • ‘But he saw too that these same houses were surrounded by high walls, all heavily buttressed against the regular earthquakes.’
  • 2Increase the strength of or justification for; reinforce.

    ‘authority was buttressed by religious belief’
    • ‘The southern Cape's political strength is very much buttressed because the party's Provincial Leader is the mayor of George.’
    • ‘By this reckoning, buoyant growth will boost wages and salaries, giving home buyers the extra money they need to cover their increased borrowing costs and so buttress housing.’
    • ‘Whether in business or politics, partnerships are supposed to buttress the strengths of those involved.’
    • ‘The Athenian polis, buttressed by the strength of its Council of Five Hundred and Assembly of citizens, managed to gain control of a confederation of city-states which gradually became the Athenian Empire.’
    • ‘Ultimately, though, this fear of sexuality buttresses Bulosan's inability to perceive the material realities of prostitution and sexual abuse.’
    • ‘When analysts can cite other experts, whether private sector or foreign liaison, they add to their own credibility - experts talk to other experts - as well as buttress their argument.’
    • ‘We regard Article 10 as reinforcing and buttressing the conclusions we have reached and set out above.’
    • ‘Wenger noted that sustained workplace relationships and interaction buttress communities of practice.’
    • ‘The evidence about human genetic differences in cognition found in psychometric research increasingly is getting buttressed by results from biological research.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, many private landowners maintain feeders and dole out mineral supplements to retain the deer and buttress antler growth.’
    • ‘I was expecting at least a stout defence, and probably new evidence that would help buttress his case, but he barely rated a mention in Trevor Mallard's speech, and I will tell the members why.’
    • ‘In other words, participant observers frequently buttress their observations with methods of data collection that allow them access to important areas that are not amenable to observation.’
    • ‘Transmitted to Washington by the British, the Zimmermann telegram helped buttress President Woodrow Wilson's decision to call for a declaration of war against Germany.’
    • ‘By waging geopolitical wars, clamping down on immigration and regulating the mobility of capital, it buttresses its own authority, and maintains the false boundaries of nation-states.’
    • ‘The move buttresses Hormel's long-standing strategy to form joint ventures with Mexican, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean brands to cater to the growing ethnic population.’
    • ‘Cable and satellite operators seldom disclose subscription numbers, but what numbers are available buttress Peck's point.’
    • ‘And small-world experiences that we encounter naturally buttress people's religious faith as evidence of ‘design.’’
    • ‘He had read a great deal of history, but he does not buttress his position by quoting from historical sources, as he was later to do.’
    • ‘Remember, these thinly capitalized companies' insurance buttress truly enormous quantities of securities.’
    • ‘It is as if their role in life is to appease, and even buttress, the white liberal conscience while naturally continuing to do all the dirty work.’
    strengthen, reinforce, fortify, support, prop up, bolster up, shore up, underpin, cement, brace, uphold, confirm, defend, maintain, back up, buoy up
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Middle English: from Old French (ars) bouterez thrusting (arch), from boter to strike or thrust (see butt).