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Pillar vs. Column: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on December 4, 2023
A pillar is a structural element, often decorative, supporting a building or structure, while a column is a vertical, cylindrical support, usually structural and often decorated.

Key Differences

Pillars and columns both serve as structural supports, but their design and cultural significance can differ. Pillars are often associated with strength and stability, used symbolically in various contexts, whereas columns are primarily structural elements, integral to the architectural design, known for their cylindrical shape and capital styles.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
The term 'pillar' is used more broadly, sometimes referring to non-structural, decorative elements, or even metaphorically in literature. In contrast, a 'column' is specifically a structural element, usually cylindrical, with a base, shaft, and capital, following classical architectural orders.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
In historical contexts, pillars are seen in various shapes and styles, from the ancient Stonehenge megaliths to the ornate pillars of Indian temples. Columns, however, are closely associated with Greek and Roman architecture, with distinct styles like Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
Huma Saeed
Dec 04, 2023
Pillars can be made from various materials, including stone, wood, or metal, and may not always be circular. Columns, on the other hand, are typically made of stone or concrete and are usually circular, designed to distribute weight evenly.
Janet White
Dec 04, 2023
In modern architecture, the use of the term 'pillar' is more flexible, sometimes referring to figurative support, such as in a community or organization. 'Column', however, retains its architectural specificity, essential in building design for its load-bearing capacity and aesthetic contribution.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 04, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Shape

Varied, not necessarily cylindrical
Typically cylindrical
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Function

Structural or decorative
Primarily structural
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Material

Can be stone, wood, metal
Often stone or concrete
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Symbolism

Represents strength, stability
Symbolizes order, architectural design
Aimie Carlson
Dec 04, 2023

Historical Context

Diverse, from Stonehenge to Indian temples
Associated with Greek and Roman architecture
Harlon Moss
Dec 04, 2023
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Pillar and Column Definitions

Pillar

In geology, a pillar is a tall column of rock, shaped by erosion.
The sandstone pillars in the national park are a natural wonder.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Column

In journalism, a column is a regular feature or article in a newspaper or magazine.
She writes a weekly column on environmental issues.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Pillar

A pillar can be a person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support.
She was considered a pillar of her community.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 28, 2023

Column

In computing, a column is a vertical division of data in a table or spreadsheet.
The column in the spreadsheet lists all the employee names.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 28, 2023

Pillar

A pillar is a vertical support structure in architecture.
The ancient temple was supported by large stone pillars.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Column

A column is a vertical structural element in architecture, supporting a weight.
The building's roof was supported by large marble columns.
Huma Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Pillar

In a metaphorical sense, a pillar is something that is a central or essential part of a system.
Trust is a pillar of a healthy relationship.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Column

In military terms, a column is a formation of troops marching in line.
The soldiers marched in a column during the parade.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Pillar

A pillar can be a tall, vertical column of fire or cloud.
A pillar of smoke rose from the distant fire.
Harlon Moss
Nov 28, 2023

Column

A column is a cylindrical object or structure.
The glass column in the exhibit displayed rare butterflies.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 28, 2023

Pillar

A slender, freestanding, vertical support; a column.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Column

A vertical structure usually consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a capital, used as a support or standing alone as a monument.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Pillar

Such a structure or one similar to it used for decoration.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

FAQs

Do columns have to be circular?

Traditionally, columns are circular, but modern design sometimes varies.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Are pillars always load-bearing?

Not necessarily; pillars can be decorative or symbolic as well.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Can pillars be made of materials other than stone?

Yes, pillars can be made of wood, metal, or other materials.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Is a pillar used in modern architecture?

Yes, pillars are used both for support and aesthetics in modern architecture.
Harlon Moss
Dec 04, 2023

Are columns found in all types of architecture?

Columns are common in many architectural styles, particularly classical.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 04, 2023

What are the parts of a column?

A column typically consists of a base, shaft, and capital.
Harlon Moss
Dec 04, 2023

What is a decorative pillar?

A decorative pillar is used for aesthetic purposes, not for support.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

What is a pillar?

A pillar is a vertical support structure in architecture, often decorative or symbolic.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Can a pillar have any shape?

Yes, pillars can vary in shape, not always cylindrical.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

What is a column?

A column is a cylindrical architectural element that supports a structure.
Huma Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Can a pillar be part of furniture design?

Yes, pillars can be elements in furniture for support or decoration.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

What makes a column Ionic or Corinthian?

Ionic and Corinthian columns are defined by their capitals' design and detailing.
Harlon Moss
Dec 04, 2023

What is a Doric column?

Doric column is a simple, sturdy column style from ancient Greek architecture.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Can pillars be used metaphorically?

Yes, pillars are often used metaphorically to denote support and strength.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Are pillars used in garden design?

Yes, pillars can be decorative elements in gardens and landscapes.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Are columns always vertical?

Yes, columns are typically vertical to effectively support weight.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Are columns purely functional?

Columns are functional but also contribute to aesthetic design.
Harlon Moss
Dec 04, 2023

Can a column be a symbol in literature?

Yes, columns can symbolize stability and order in literature.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

Do pillars have a cultural significance?

Yes, pillars often hold cultural or religious significance.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 04, 2023

What is the role of a column in structural engineering?

Columns play a crucial role in supporting buildings and distributing loads.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 04, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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