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pier / pi(ə)r/ • n. 1. a structure leading out from the shore into a body of water, in particular: ∎  a platform supported on pillars or girders, used as a landing stage for boats. ∎  a similar structure leading out to sea and used as an entertainment area, typically incorporating arcades and places to eat. ∎  a breakwater or mole. 2. a solid support designed to sustain vertical pressure, in particular: ∎  a pillar supporting an arch or a bridge. ∎  a section of a wall between windows or other adjacent openings.

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1. A detached mass of construction, generally acting as a support, such as the solid part of a wall between two openings, or a massive element from which arches spring, as in a bridge.

2. Support, such as a pier in a repetitive medieval nave-arcade varying from sturdy, oversized Romanesque examples to the lighter, taller, more slender, multimoulded Perpendicular types. Piers are therefore very much more massive than columns.

3. Vertical formation in brickwork on the face of a flint or rag-stone wall, serving to strengthen it.

4. Stone, concrete, metal-work, or timber construction jutting out into the sea or other water as a break-water, landing-stage, or promenade.

5. Jetty or wharf.

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pier, in engineering, term applied to a mass of reinforced concrete or masonry supporting a large structure, such as a bridge. When piers are built on ground of poor bearing value, it is often necessary to drive piles to obtain a firm base. Construction of piers built in riverbeds is facilitated by the use of cofferdams or caissons. Structures that extend out from the shore and over the water, serving as a place to land passengers and merchandise from vessels, are also known as piers. They are used in many harbors when there is ample width of stream; in New York harbor, for example, great economy of shore front is realized by building piers out at right angles to the shore. These piers are generally built on pile foundations. In architecture the term applies to the clustered Gothic pillar, to a wall between openings, and to a detached masonry mass serving as a gate post.

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pier one of the supports of the spans of a bridge XII; solid structure extending into the sea, etc. XIV; pillar XVII. ME. per — AL. pera or pēra, of unkn. orig.