AskDefine | Define butte

Dictionary Definition



1 a hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding region; has a flat top and sloping sides
2 a town in southwestern Montana; center for mining copper

User Contributed Dictionary

see Butte



From butte.


  1. an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top



Old French


  • /byt/


fr-noun f
  1. small hill


Extensive Definition

A butte () is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small flat top, smaller than mesas and plateaus. Buttes are prevalent in the western United States. The word "butte" comes from a French word meaning "small hill".

Distinction from mesa

One standard holds that a mesa has a surface area over 1,000 square meters, while a butte has a surface area less than 1,000 square meters (11,250 square feet). Geographers use the rule of thumb that a mesa has a top that is greater than three times its height, while a butte's top is less than three times its height.


Buttes are formed by erosion when a cap of hard rock, often of volcanic origin, covers a layer of softer rock that is easily worn away. The hard rock avoids erosion while the soft rock around it wears down. One example of a noted butte is Chimney Rock.

External links

butte in Czech: Svědecká hora
butte in Danish: Butte
butte in Spanish: Butte
butte in French: Butte (géomorphologie)
butte in Italian: Butte
butte in German: Zeugenberg

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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