Noun > Pillar

Noun – Pillar

This word, and its meaning, come straight from Latin.

A pillar is a tall post or column that’s used for support, decoration, or both.

So, figuratively speaking, pillars are people or things that remind you of strong, sturdy, handsome columns because they provide the basis for something, or because they give strong, stable support to something.


Part of speech:
Noun, the countable kind: “he’s a pillar of this society,” “she’s a pillar of strength in our family,” “these companies are the pillars of our local economy.”

Other forms worth knowing:
pillars, pillar-like, pillarless, pillared (“having pillars, either literally or figuratively”)

How to use it:
As positive as this word is, it can sound cheesy. So, pick it when you’re not afraid to compare some group, company, society, industry, world, concept, or system of belief to a grand, sturdy, long-standing building (or edifice).

When we refer to people or things as pillars, we often talk about small groups of them at a time: “the three nations were once the pillars of the modern world,” “those churches are the pillars of this community.”

This metaphor is common in the world of business, maybe a little too common. But if you’ve got your mind set on creating a diagram in PowerPoint about the pillars of your success in the industry, I won’t stop you.

“The usual bypasser is a woman sauntering slowly down the road with bundles upon bundles balanced on her head. These women are pillars of wonder, defying gravity while wearing the ho-hum aspect of perfect tedium.”
— Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, 2008

“Magic, technology and money are the pillars of a brutally hierarchical city called Tevanne, the setting of this cyberpunk adventure.”
— Maria Russo, New York Times, 20 September 2019