buttress (n.) any prop or support

buttress (v.) to support by a buttress; prop up

Words like combat, abstract, project, and convict change the syllable that's stressed based on whether you're using their noun or verb or adjective form. I thought the word buttress, which has both noun and verb forms, should also follow the rule like the others do, but I can't seem to find anything that differentiates its pronunciation based on its part of speech. Does anyone know if it follows this initial-stress-derived noun rule? I know it's not much of an established rule and buttress could be an outlier but I'm just not sure.

  • Most dictionaries provide syllable stress guidance. What does the dictionary tell you? – Jim May 2 '15 at 0:18
  • It says that it's stressed on the first syllable and thats it; it doesn't say anything about noun or verb form pronunciation. – Mike M May 2 '15 at 0:22
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    Great. Now look at another noun/verb on your list (like convict) and see what it says. Then draw a conclusion. (The pronunciation doesn't change...) – Jim May 2 '15 at 0:23
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    Welcome to EL&U. As a dictionary will tell you, it does not follow the rule, but the "rule" is only a rule of thumb, like the vast majority of "rules" when it comes to natural languages. There are numerous cases where the stress is always on the first syllable like number or quarry, and others where the accent is always on the second like command or effect, and others where it depends on the dialect, like reply or police. – choster May 2 '15 at 0:35

What an observant question!

The initial-stress-derived noun rule you reference is just a convention.

Buttress isn't one of the words where it typically applies, i.e. it's commonly pronounced with similar emphasis in its noun and verb forms.

There are many words where this occurs: refrain and accord are two examples.


The pattern you see is by no means a rule for English pronunciation. For instance, the word "exit" is pronounced the same whether it is used as a verb or noun. Most of the words that do follow the convention have a pattern of a prefix and a root in their construction: conduct, combat, direct, project, attribute, increase, etc. Again, not a rule, but certainly a better indicator for words that might follow this stress-changing convention.

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