a. A platform extending from a shore over water and supported by piles or pillars, used to secure, protect, and provide access to ships or boats.
b. Such a structure used predominantly for entertainment.
2. A supporting structure at the junction of connecting spans of a bridge.
3. Architecture Any of various vertical supporting structures, especially:
a. A pillar, generally rectangular in cross section, supporting an arch or roof.
b. The portion of a wall between windows, doors, or other openings.
c. A reinforcing structure that projects from a wall; a buttress.
[Middle English per, bridge support, partly from Norman French pere, piere (from Old French puiere, a support, from puie, from puier, to support, from Vulgar Latin *podiāre, from Latin podium, platform; see PODIUM) and partly from Medieval Latin pera (from Old North French pire, piere, breakwater, possibly from Latin petra, rock, from Greek petrā; see per-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.