Definition of stilt in US English:



  • 1Either of a pair of upright poles with supports for the feet enabling the user to walk at a distance above the ground.

    • ‘Dancers wearing huge socks and stilts will perform in a high intensity, 80s-style show at a free lunchtime concert in Civic Square on September 2.’
    • ‘She initially learned about stilts during summer camp but she did not get to perform until graduation day at Dundas Public School.’
    • ‘It was a night of art, drama, music, amazing costumes, stilts, fire, fun, and fear.’
    • ‘‘I can't remember when I got my very first pair of stilts, but I was very young, and I just went from there,’ she said.’
    • ‘From Australia comes the Stalker Theatre Company, where Four Riders will take to the streets on giant stilts.’
    • ‘As soon as Charles took one step outside the building he felt like he was balancing sensitively on a pair of stilts and his body was a thousand pounds.’
    • ‘So he and his ensemble created a show featuring nine giraffes, each manned by two actors and a pair of stilts.’
    • ‘On the lawn of the facility, children wearing stilts with butterfly masks and wings made of coloured crepe paper, pranced in the mid-afternoon sun.’
    • ‘One of the strangest sights I've ever seen was a fully made-up clown on six-foot stilts interrupting his street act to answer his mobile phone.’
    • ‘The entertainers stood out from the crowd, especially the drag queen on top of an eight foot high pair of stilts.’
    • ‘Normal people like me don't normally walk on four-inch stilts!’
    • ‘In that case I'll buy some stilts and attach them to my feet.’
    • ‘In fact, decked in expensive ‘kasavu’ saris, teamed with stilts or platform heels, the pretty young things on campuses look no different from fashion models.’
    • ‘One is hardly able to imagine a man making such somersaults, while tied to three-metre iron stilts, but he did just that.’
    • ‘Not to be left out, the parents had their chance to prove their skills in the Coconut Stilt Race, ending up with some of the parents on the ground and coconut stilts flying, much to the amusement of the crowd.’
    • ‘Another Balkanski group act involves trampolining and stilts.’
    • ‘The stilts made him a little over seven feet and I felt like a mouse next to him.’
    • ‘Ekeleke masqueraders dance gracefully on short stilts, wear George-cloth wrappers, and cover their faces with a piece of lace.’
    • ‘The natives congregated in front of the main gate, or would peer over the walls, standing on makeshift bamboo stilts.’
    • ‘Some of them, like a guy directing traffic atop stilts at one of last Monday's Mayday demos, prefer to wear a pink bunny suit.’
    1. 1.1 Each of a set of posts or piles supporting a building above the ground.
      • ‘‘The main buildings are raised on large steel stilts, but the snow build-up and ice movement still cause considerable problems,’ he said.’
      • ‘The ones in the valley were built with high stilts to keep the river from washing them away.’
      • ‘A design by an award-winning architect from the early 1950s, it was originally on concrete stilts and featured glass-brick features and portholes typical of the style.’
      • ‘The Alphonse hotel complex is a recently-built collection of ‘A’ frame chalets on short stilts.’
      • ‘Each year, the stilts that have been pushed over too far need to be removed, straightened and welded back into position.’
      • ‘The first, from Gillygate, would have gone over a new bridge across the Ouse, behind York Railway Station then climbed onto stilts over the railway line to The Mount.’
      • ‘Instead, my wife Nicky and I were in our room, which is slightly separate from the hotel and built on concrete stilts over looking the sea.’
      • ‘He hoped the pile of rust standing on four unsteady landing stilts wasn't the ship he planned to hire.’
      • ‘Traditional buildings use stilts, heat-drawing chimneys, and spatial planning to increase ventilation and heat dissipation.’
      • ‘In the southeast of the state is Inle Lake, where the Intha people live in stilt houses above the water and grow vegetables on floating gardens.’
      • ‘Like most buildings in the region, these must be raised off the ground on low piles or stilts to ward off termites and rot.’
      • ‘These roots, dropping into the surrounding mud, also become stilts that support more stilts and new trunks nestled in the tangled mass.’
      • ‘It's almost as if the secondfloor living spaces - two bedrooms, a bath, and a home office - were standing on broad stilts.’
      • ‘Rising directly out of the stunning blue depths of the Celebes sea on a series of graceful stilts, Kapalai resort seems to almost hover directly over the water with no land in sight either under or around it.’
      • ‘The cosy hotel is built of corrugated metal on concrete stilts.’
      • ‘A proposal to raise Luas onto stilts at an additional cost of €20 million is unlikely to go ahead due to planning problems.’
      • ‘Baan Dvara Prateep is a compound of brand new wooden buildings erected on wooden stilts by the river bank.’
      • ‘The stilts are just long enough to keep the floorboards out of the water during a high-tide.’
      • ‘His living room in Hampstead, north London, has a ledge that is propped up by stilts, and the fan moved in unnoticed under the ledge.’
      • ‘It makes her one-room bamboo hut, which stands on shaky wooden stilts in a grove of sugar palms, look almost lovely.’
    2. 1.2 A small, flat, three-pointed support for ceramic ware in a kiln.
      • ‘It is best to glaze lightly where the stilt will touch.’
  • 2A long-billed wading bird with predominantly black and white plumage and long slender reddish legs.

    Family Recurvirostridae: two genera, in particular Himantopus, and several species

    • ‘At the sewage pond a dozen black winged stilts were feeding as well as a pair of spur-winged plovers.’
    • ‘She has already been instrumental in reviving the population of another critically endangered native species, the black stilt or kaki.’
    • ‘There were a dozen black-winged stilts, two spur-winged plovers, a common sandpiper and my new life bird, a great snipe.’
    • ‘In the Adyar river, black winged stilts, three varieties of egrets and migrants such as golden plovers, sand pipers and little stints are to be found.’
    • ‘Family groups of black-necked stilts chatter, the calm water reflecting their long red legs and black-and-white bodies.’
    • ‘Overall, however, the distinctive copulatory behavior of avocets and stilts seems relatively uniform across the family.’
    • ‘Herons, Egyptian geese, stilts and sandpipers are already frequent visitors to the site.’
    • ‘On the edge I saw a few stilts and a common sandpiper.’
    • ‘Even though I was over 250 meters from the sitting bird the other stilts were really agitated and swooped low over my head and continued to call.’
    • ‘There were lots of black-winged stilts, avocets, Red-wattled plover and black-headed gulls.’
    • ‘You can circumnavigate the island by kayak, search for black-necked stilts, sail small boats, and snorkel the reefs off White Bay beach.’
    • ‘It also helps newly-hatched stilts find aquatic food, such as flies, larvae, crustaceans.’
    • ‘This was, hands down the best view of stilts I have ever gotten but incredibly odd at the same time since they were in such an unnatural environment.’
    • ‘An injured black stilt which broke its wing when it flew into a pylon is unable to mate, but is held at the sanctuary in an area next to a pair of black stilts which seemed reluctant to mate.’
    • ‘Even before construction of the barracks was completed, the basin passed inspection by a pair of stilts that nested and hatched a clutch of three eggs on one of the new gravel islands.’
    • ‘I observed a pair of ringed plovers, a new species for me, a common redshank, two dozen black-winged stilts and a yellow wagtail.’
    • ‘You're likely to see waders as well as a variety of herons, stilts, and even the endangered West Indian whistling duck.’
    • ‘I'd seen a few stilts upstream, but now clumps of them were swooping and diving over the water.’
    • ‘Common species of shorebirds, such as yellowlegs, dowitchers, black-bellied plovers and ‘peep,’ are often joined by pectoral, stilt and solitary sandpipers.’
    • ‘On the other side of post at the sewage pond I saw the usual black-winged stilts plus a pair of spotted redshanks and an active green sandpiper bobbing its tail as it fed along the shoreline.’


  • on stilts

    • 1Supported by stilts.

      • ‘Some homes on stilts are still there, but other ones are gone.’
      • ‘Mimicry artistes, ‘gazal’ singers, clowns on stilts and folk artistes entertained the supporters who accompanied candidates.’
      • ‘And in addition, these coastal areas were homes to lots of farmers and fishermen who lived in thatched huts or stilts - or houses and small dwellings on stilts.’
      • ‘Unless they were up on stilts, we all just got a lot of water damage.’
      • ‘Houses are tucked in or cantilevered out, the carports and backs of houses are supported on stilts, and verandahs and decks project over long drops, down to roofs or bush below.’
      • ‘In Jakarta's dockland, Tanjung Priok, the poor still live in foul shanty settlements built on stilts over the fetid water.’
      • ‘Are you planning to have houses on stilts or higher off the ground so if there's another storm in the next few months, they'll be a little better off?’
      • ‘Decorated with traditional bamboo furnishings, the solar-powered house sits on stilts just 15 feet from the clear lagoon.’
      • ‘It's wooden-built, raised off the ground on stilts.’
      • ‘After reaching the far shore, he was taken to a house on stilts, he remembers, where he spent the afternoon playing with the ferryman's son.’
    • 2(of language) bombastic or stilted.

      ‘he is talking nonsense on stilts, and he knows it’
      • ‘Or is it that the externality idea is, as he puts it in that IEA pamphlet I link to above, really nonsense on stilts?’
      • ‘You might have expected civic leaders to point out that this demand is not just nonsense, but nonsense on stilts.’
      • ‘But common sense leads me to conclude that this is all nonsense on stilts.’
      • ‘His speech on global warming was simply nonsense on stilts from start to finish.’
      • ‘To speak of a right in the absence of a law is nonsense on stilts.’
      • ‘I am reminded of the phrase ‘nonsense on stilts.’’
      • ‘It is nonsense on stilts, but we all sit there with everyone else and nod along with the show.’
      • ‘Considering how heavily the surveillance film has to be cut and edited, and how aware the happy family is that they may be on camera, this is (in Bentham's words) nonsense on stilts.’


Middle English: of Germanic origin; related to Dutch stelt and German Stelze. stilt (sense 2) dates from the late 18th century.