1. A structure, usually brick or stone, built against a wall for support or reinforcement.
2. Something resembling a buttress, as:
a. The flared base of certain tree trunks.
b. A horny growth on the heel of a horse's hoof.
3. Something that serves to support, prop, or reinforce:"The law is by its very nature a buttress of the status quo"(J. William Fulbright).
tr.v.but·tressed, but·tress·ing, but·tress·es
1. To support or reinforce with a buttress.
2. To sustain, prop, or bolster:"The author buttresses her analysis with lengthy dissections of several of Moore's poems"(Warren Woessner).
[Middle Englishbuteras, fromOld Frenchbouterez, frombouter, to strike against, of Germanic origin; see bhau- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)
(click for a larger image)buttress
top: buttressed wall of the Savino-Storozhersky Monastery
bottom: buttresses of a tree in a Costa Rican rainforest
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.