from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding area and has sloping or vertical sides and a flat top.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A detached low mountain, or high rising abruptly from the general level of the surrounding plain; -- applied to peculiar elevations in the Rocky Mountain region.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun US an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Old French butt, mound behind targets; see butt.]


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  • What's the difference between a butte and a mesa?

    September 22, 2008

  • My mesa doesn't look so big in jeans.

    September 22, 2008

  • A mesa has a clifflike side. Otherwise, the only difference is mesa is Spanish and butte is French.

    September 23, 2008

  • I can't believe it's not butter.

    November 12, 2010

  • Ha ha!

    November 12, 2010

  • Mesas are only found in Spain, whereas buttes are found in France and possibly Canada.

    November 13, 2010

  • Butte, Montana is a misaplied mistranslation and should be renamed, as should the 12th century Acoma Pueblo that sits atop the Acoma Mesa in New Mexico, if the previous comment is to be accepted.

    November 13, 2010

  • What about Elephant Butte, New Mexico? Or should the question be tabled?

    Mesa Verde is in Colorado.

    And there are Mesa, Mesilla, and Mesita in New Mexico.

    Also in New Mexico, there are Mesa Chivato (oh you kid! (goat)), Mesa Montosa (are we out of the woods?), Mesa Poleo (false pennyroyal herb),Mesa Prieta, Mesa Redonda (when we get round to it), and Mesa Rica ( a gold carrying group of 49ers was caught in a massacre there). There are a mess of mesas! (not to mention a bunch of buttes.)

    November 13, 2010

  • As skiing season approaches, "Crested Mesa" Colorado just doesn't ring true.

    November 14, 2010

  • Fajada (banded) Butte in Chaco Canyon has gained prominence since the rediscovery of the 'sun dagger' seasonal calendar several decades ago

    November 14, 2010

  • Hayrick Butte in Oregon is an example of a tuya volcano that erupts under a glacier.

    November 14, 2010

  • Tempe Butte is the site of "A" mountain near the campus of ASU (Arizona State University) in Phoenix.

    November 14, 2010

  • Pedernal (Agate) Butte, more commonly known as Cerro Pedernal, near Tsiping on the north side of the Jemez is a butte made famous by Georgia O'Keefe's paintings.

    November 14, 2010