AskDefine | Define tower

Dictionary Definition



1 a structure taller than its diameter; can stand alone or be attached to a larger building
2 anything tall and thin approximating the shape of a column or tower; "the test tube held a column of white powder"; "a tower of dust rose above the horizon"; "a thin pillar of smoke betrayed their campsite" [syn: column, pillar]
3 a powerful small boat designed to pull or push larger ships [syn: tugboat, tug, towboat] v : appear very large or occupy a commanding position; "The huge sculpture predominates over the fountain"; "Large shadows loomed on the canyon wall" [syn: loom, predominate, hulk]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English torr


  • (UK) /ˈtaʊə/, /"taU@/
  • (US) /ˈtaʊɚ/, /"taU@`/
  • Rhymes: -aʊə(r)


  1. A structure, usually taller than it is wide, often used as a lookout.
    From the top of the tower we could see far off into the distance.
  2. Any item, such as a computer case, that is usually higher than it is wide.



  • Catalan: torre
  • Czech: věž
  • Finnish: torni
  • Hungarian: torony
  • Japanese: 塔, タワー
  • Occitan: torre
  • Polish: wieża
  • Russian: башня, вышка
(figuratively) any item that is higher than it is wide
  • Czech: věž
  • Finnish: torni
  • Japanese: タワー
  • Polish: wieża


  1. To be considerably taller than.
    The basketball players towered over their fans.


to be considerably taller than

Extensive Definition

Towers are tall human-made structures that are always taller than they are wide, usually by a significant margin. Towers are generally built to take advantage of their height, and can stand alone or as part of a larger structure.


Towers have been used by mankind since prehistoric times. Some of the earliest surviving examples are the broch structures in northern Scotland, which are conical towerhouses. The Chinese used towers as integrated elements of the Great Wall of China as early as about 210 BC. These and later examples from Phoenian and Roman cultures emphasised the use of a tower in fortification and sentinel roles. For example, watchtower elements are found at Mogador from the first millennium BC, derived from Phoenician or Carthaginian origins, while the Romans utilised octagonal towers as elements of Diocletian's Palace in Croatia, which monument dates to approximately 300 AD.
A noted incomplete tower is the Hassan Tower in Morocco, where work was abandoned in 1199 AD, and the tower stands today as a monument in its incomplete state. Another well known tower is the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy built from 1173 until 1372. The Himalayan Towers are stone towers located chiefly in Tibet built approximately 14th to 15th century.
Some old towers in the United States are the Milwaukee City Hall, built in 1895 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Woolworth Building, completed in 1913 in New York City.


Old English torr is from Latin turris via Old French tor. The Latin term together with Greek τύρσις was loaned from a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean language, connected with the Illyrian toponym Βου-δοργίς. With the Lydian toponyms Τύρρα, Τύρσα, it has been connected with the ethnonym Τυρρήνιοι as well as with Tusci (from *Turs-ci), the Greek and Latin names for the Etruscans (Kretschmer Glotta 22, 110ff.)

Functions of Towers


A modern type of tower, the skyscraper, uses less ground space as a ratio of total building interior square footage. Skyscrapers are often not classified as towers, although most have the same design and structure of towers. In the United Kingdom, tall domestic buildings are referred to as tower blocks. In the United States, the World Trade Center had the nickname the Twin Towers, a name shared with the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Strategic Advantages

The tower throughout history has provided its users with an advantage in surveying defensive positions and obtaining a better view of the surrounding areas, including battlefields. They were installed on defensive walls or rolled near a target, see siege tower. Presently, strategic-use towers can be found at prisons or military camps.

Potential Energy

By using gravity to move objects or substances downward, a tower can be used to store items or liquids like a storage silo or a water tower, or aim an object into the earth such as a drilling tower. Ski-jump ramps use the same idea, and in the absence of a natural mountain slope or hill, can be human-made.

Communication Enhancement

In history, simple towers like lighthouses, bell towers, clock towers, signal towers and minarets were used to communicate information over greater distances. In more recent years, radio masts and cell phone towers facilitate communication by expanding the range of the transmitter.

Transportation Support

Towers can also be used to support bridges, and can reach heights that rival some of the tallest buildings above-water. Their use is most prevalent in suspension bridges and cable-stayed bridges. The use of the pylon, a simple tower structure, has also helped to build railroad bridges, mass-transit systems, and harbors.

Other Towers

The term "tower" is also sometimes used to refer to firefighting equipment with an extremely tall ladder designed for use in firefighting/rescue operations involving high-rise buildings.


tower in Arabic: برج (عمارة)
tower in Min Nan: Thah
tower in Belarusian: Вежа
tower in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Вежа
tower in Catalan: Torre
tower in Czech: Věž
tower in Welsh: Tŵr
tower in Danish: Tårn
tower in German: Turm (Bauwerk)
tower in Spanish: Torre (construcción)
tower in Esperanto: Turo
tower in Persian: برج (ساختمان)
tower in Galician: Torre (construción)
tower in Korean: 탑
tower in Indonesian: Menara
tower in Icelandic: Turn
tower in Italian: Torre
tower in Georgian: კოშკი
tower in Swahili (macrolanguage): Mnara
tower in Latin: Turris
tower in Hungarian: Torony
tower in Malay (macrolanguage): Menara
tower in Dutch: Toren (bouwwerk)
tower in Japanese: 塔
tower in Norwegian: Tårn
tower in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tårn
tower in Narom: Tou
tower in Occitan (post 1500): Torre
tower in Polish: Wieża
tower in Portuguese: Torre
tower in Romansh: Torre
tower in Quechua: Turri
tower in Russian: Башня
tower in Albanian: Kulla
tower in Sicilian: Turri
tower in Simple English: Tower
tower in Slovak: Veža (stavba)
tower in Slovenian: Stolp
tower in Serbian: Куле
tower in Serbo-Croatian: Toranj
tower in Finnish: Torni
tower in Swedish: Torn
tower in Turkish: Kule
tower in Vietnamese: Tháp
tower in Ukrainian: Вежа
tower in Vlaams: Torre
tower in Chinese: 塔 (西式)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Texas tower, acropolis, antenna tower, architecture, arise, ascend, barbican, bastion, beachhead, beacon, bedrock, belfry, bell tower, belvedere, bench mark, bleachers, blockhouse, blossom, bookmark, brew, bridge, bridgehead, building, bulk, bulk large, bunker, burgeon, buss the clouds, cairn, campanile, castle, catstone, champion, citadel, colossus, column, come up, conning tower, construct, construction, court, cupola, curl upwards, defender, derrick, develop, dome, donjon, dungeon, edifice, erection, establishment, exceed, fabric, fasthold, fastness, fire tower, flourish, fort, fortress, foundation, gallery, garrison, garrison house, gather, gazebo, germinate, go up, grandstand, grow, grow up, hold, house, hypertrophy, increase, keep, landmark, lantern, levitate, lighthouse, lightship, lookout, loom, loom large, loophole, mansion, mark, marker, martello, martello tower, mast, mature, menhir, milepost, milestone, minaret, monument, mote, motte, mount, mushroom, obelisk, observation post, observation tower, observatory, outgrow, outlook, outsoar, outstrip, overdevelop, overgrow, overlook, overtop, packaged house, pagoda, palace, palais, palatial residence, palazzo, patron, patroness, peanut gallery, peel, peel tower, peephole, pharos, pilaster, pile, pillar, pillbox, pinnacle, platform, pole, post, prefab, prefabrication, prison, procreate, protector, protectress, pullulate, pylon, pyramid, rath, rear, rear up, reproduce, ringside, ringside seat, rise, rise above, rise up, rock, safehold, safekeeper, seamark, shaft, shoot up, sighthole, skyscraper, soar, spiral, spire, spring up, sprout, sprout up, stand on tiptoe, stand out, stand up, standpipe, steeple, strong point, stronghold, structure, stupa, superstructure, surge, swarm up, sweep up, television mast, thrive, top gallery, tope, tour, tower above, tower of strength, tower over, transcend, turret, up, upgo, upgrow, upheave, uprise, upshoot, upspear, upspin, upspring, upsprout, upstream, upsurge, upswarm, upwind, vegetate, villa, ward, watchtower, water tower, wax, windmill tower
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