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- a mass of masonry built against or projecting from a wall either to stabilise, from the lateral thrust of an arch roof or vault, or to enable the wall to be thinner. Different types can exist at corners, for example, angled, diagonal, or clasping. A flying buttress transmits the thrust of a wall by means of a half arch, downwards into a pier. The pier is usually surmounted by a pinnacle which increases stability and can also add grace and verticality to the structure.