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flying buttress


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An arched masonry support serving to bear thrust, as from a roof or vault, away from a main structure to an outer pier or buttress. Also called arc-boutant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a buttress that stands apart from the structure that it supports, and is connected to it by an arch (flyer).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See Flying buttress.
  • adj. a contrivance for taking up the thrust of a roof or vault which can not be supported by ordinary buttresses. It consists of a straight bar of masonry, usually sloping, carried on an arch, and a solid pier or buttress sufficient to receive the thrust. The word is generally applied only to the straight bar with supporting arch.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a buttress that stands apart from the main structure and connected to it by an arch


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The Rome Plow knocked out the first two flying buttress roots easy, but got wedged like an axe in the third, tilted.


  • At their hands the Lombard pilaster-strip became at once a functional buttress instead of a decorative adjunct, while the successive steps in the evolution of the flying buttress remain on record and are peculiarly interesting.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI

  • Noyon followed immediately, and here, it is maintained, the flying buttress for the first time emerged through the roof, displaying in logical fashion the system of construction, and at the same time bringing the abutment above the springing of the vault, where the greatest thrust actually occurred, while permitting the lowering of the triforium roof so that the clerestory window might be given great height and brought into better proportion with the arcade and triforium.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI

  • During the second phase (1140-80) the problem of vaulting great naves was attacked; the evolution centres in the peculiar development which the genius of the French builders gave to the concealed flying buttress and to the sexpartite vault, both borrowed from Normandy (Porter, op. cit.,

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI


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  • In architecture, a flying buttress, or arc-boutant, is usually on a religious building, used to transmit the thrust of a vault across an intervening space (which might be an aisle, chapel or cloister), to a buttress outside the building. The employment of the flying buttress means that the load bearing walls can contain cut-outs, such as for large windows, that would otherwise seriously weaken the vault walls.

    The purpose of a buttress was to reduce the load on the vault wall. The majority of the load is carried by the upper part of the buttress, so making the buttress as a semi-arch provides almost the same load bearing capability, yet in a much lighter as well as a much cheaper structure. As a result, the buttress flies through the air, rather than resting on the ground and hence is known as a flying buttress.


    February 6, 2008