Ask Difference

Bluff vs. Butte — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 19, 2023
Bluff is a broad, steep face of rock or clay; butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top. Both are geographical landforms but differ in size and formation.
Bluff vs. Butte — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bluff and Butte

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Key Differences

Bluff and butte are both prominent features in the world of topography, representing unique types of raised land. A bluff is typically found alongside bodies of water such as rivers and can often be identified by its broad, steep face of rock or clay. In contrast, a butte is not usually associated with water bodies and is recognized by its isolated structure with steep, nearly vertical sides, and a flat or gently sloping top.
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Aug 19, 2023
Both bluff and butte have played significant roles in shaping the human experience throughout history. Bluffs have been crucial in strategic military and settlement positions, offering a vantage point and natural defense. Buttes, on the other hand, stand solitary in landscapes like the American West, serving as landmarks and spiritual sites for indigenous peoples.
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The formation process of both bluffs and buttes is an interesting study in geology. Bluffs often form due to the erosional activity of water, with the softer lower levels wearing away faster than the harder top layers. Buttes, however, are remnants of extensive plateaus. Over time, erosion strips away the surrounding land, leaving behind the isolated, resilient hill known as a butte.
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Aug 19, 2023
In cultural representation, bluffs and buttes hold significant symbolism. Bluffs, with their imposing and unyielding façades, can symbolize strength or an insurmountable challenge. Buttes, on the other hand, can represent isolation, resilience, or spiritual significance, especially in cultures and histories of the American Southwest.
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Aug 19, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

A broad, steep face of rock or clay.
An isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top.
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Association with Water

Typically found alongside water bodies.
Not usually associated with water bodies.
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Symbolism

Strength, challenge.
Isolation, resilience, spiritual significance.
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Formation Process

Formed mainly due to water erosion.
Erosion of plateaus leaves behind buttes.
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Cultural References

Used for strategic positions in settlements.
Landmarks or spiritual sites in some cultures.
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Compare with Definitions

Bluff

A steep cliff or bank.
The house sat atop a bluff overlooking the ocean.
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Butte

In geomorphology, a butte () is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top; buttes are smaller landforms than mesas, plateaus, and tablelands. The word butte comes from a French word meaning knoll (but of any size); its use is prevalent in the Western United States, including the southwest where mesa (Spanish for "table") is used for the larger landform.
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Bluff

To mislead or deceive.
He tried to bluff his way through the interview.
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Butte

A symbol of resilience and endurance in certain cultures.
For many indigenous tribes, the butte represents spiritual strength and endurance.
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Bluff

Open and direct in manner.
Her bluff manner can sometimes be mistaken for rudeness.
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Butte

A flat-topped hill, smaller than a plateau.
The butte stood solitary in the vast desert landscape.
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Bluff

The act of pretending in card games.
He made a successful bluff in the poker game.
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Butte

An isolated hill with vertical or nearly vertical sides.
Monument Valley has some of the most iconic buttes in the world.
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Bluff

Broad in form and rough in texture.
The bluff features of the statue gave it a rustic charm.
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Butte

An erosional feature formed from plateau degradation.
Over millennia, the surrounding plateau eroded away, leaving behind the butte.
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Bluff

An attempt to deceive someone into believing that one can or is going to do something
His game of bluff
The offer was denounced as a bluff
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Butte

A landmark often used for navigation in flatter terrains.
Pioneers used the butte as a reference point on their journey westward.
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Bluff

A steep cliff, bank, or promontory.
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Butte

An isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top (similar to but narrower than a mesa).
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Bluff

A grove or clump of trees.
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Butte

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

Try to deceive someone as to one's abilities or intentions
The object is to bluff your opponent into submission
He's been bluffing all along
They bluffed their way past the sentries
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Butte

(US) An isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top.
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Bluff

Direct in speech or behaviour but in a good-natured way
A big, bluff, hearty man
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Butte

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.
The creek . . . passes by two remarkable buttes of red conglomerate.
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Bluff

(of a cliff or a ship's bows) having a vertical or steep broad front.
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Butte

A hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding region; has a flat top and sloping sides
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Bluff

To engage in a false display of confidence or aggression in order to deceive or intimidate someone
The management debated if there would really be a strike or if the union was bluffing.
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Butte

A town in southwestern Montana; center for mining copper
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Bluff

To make a display of aggression, as by charging or baring the teeth, as a means of intimidating another animal.
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Bluff

To try to mislead opponents in a card game by heavy betting on a poor hand or by little or no betting on a good one.
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Bluff

To deceive or intimidate (someone) by a false display of confidence or aggression.
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Bluff

To try to mislead (opponents) in a card game by heavy betting on a poor hand or by little or no betting on a good one.
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Bluff

To start but not carry out (an action) as a means of deceiving or intimidating another
The pitcher bluffed a throw to first base.
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Bluff

The act or practice of bluffing.
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Bluff

A steep headland, promontory, riverbank, or cliff.
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Bluff

Having or showing a rough and blunt but not unkind manner
"the great big bluff guests who told bawdy jokes and got up early to watch the sun rise" (Erin McGraw).
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Bluff

Having a broad, steep front
The boat's bluff bow.
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Bluff

An act of bluffing; a false expression of the strength of one's position in order to intimidate; braggadocio.
That is only bluff, or a bluff.
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Bluff

(poker) An attempt to represent oneself as holding a stronger hand than one actually does.
John's bet was a bluff: he bet without even so much as a pair.
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Bluff

The card game poker.
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Bluff

One who bluffs; a bluffer.
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Bluff

An excuse.
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Bluff

A high, steep bank, for example by a river or the sea, or beside a ravine or plain; a cliff with a broad face.
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Bluff

(Canadian Prairies) A small wood or stand of trees, typically poplar or willow.
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Bluff

(poker) To make a bluff; to give the impression that one's hand is stronger than it is.
John bluffed by betting without even a pair.
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Bluff

(by analogy) To frighten or deter with a false show of strength or confidence; to give a false impression of strength or temerity in order to intimidate and gain some advantage.
The government claims it will call an election if this bill does not pass. Is it truly ready to do so, or is it bluffing?
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Bluff

To take advantage by bluffing.
We bluffed our way past the guards.
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Bluff

To give false information intentionally; to lie; to deceive
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Bluff

To fluff, puff or swell up.
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Bluff

Having a broad, flattened front.
The bluff bows of a ship
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Bluff

Rising steeply with a flat or rounded front.
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Bluff

Surly; churlish; gruff; rough.
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Bluff

Roughly frank and hearty in one's manners.
A bluff answer
A bluff manner of talking
A bluff sea captain
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Bluff

Having a broad, flattened front; as, the bluff bows of a ship.
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Bluff

Rising steeply with a flat or rounded front.
Its banks, if not really steep, had a bluff and precipitous aspect.
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Bluff

Surly; churlish; gruff; rough.
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Bluff

Abrupt; roughly frank; unceremonious; blunt; brusque; as, a bluff answer; a bluff manner of talking; a bluff sea captain.
There is indeed a bluff pertinacity which is a proper defense in a moment of surprise.
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Bluff

A high, steep bank, as by a river or the sea, or beside a ravine or plain; a cliff with a broad face.
Beach, bluff, and wave, adieu.
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Bluff

An act of bluffing; an expression of self-confidence for the purpose of intimidation; braggadocio; as, that is only bluff, or a bluff.
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Bluff

A game at cards; poker.
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Bluff

To deter (an opponent) from taking the risk of betting on his hand of cards, as the bluffer does by betting heavily on his own hand although it may be of less value.
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Bluff

To frighten or deter from accomplishing a purpose by making a show of confidence in one's strength or resources; as, he bluffed me off.
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Bluff

To act as in the game of bluff.
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Bluff

A high steep bank (usually formed by river erosion)
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Bluff

Pretense that your position is stronger than it really is;
His bluff succeeded in getting him accepted
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Bluff

The act of bluffing in poker; deception by a false show of confidence in the strength of your cards
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Bluff

Deceive an opponent by a bold bet on an inferior hand with the result that the opponent withdraws a winning hand
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Bluff

Frighten someone by pretending to be stronger than one really is
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Bluff

Very steep; having a prominent and almost vertical front;
A bluff headland
Where the bold chalk cliffs of England rise
A sheer descent of rock
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Bluff

Bluntly direct and outspoken but good-natured;
A bluff but pleasant manner
A bluff and rugged natural leader
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Common Curiosities

What's a bluff in terms of geography?

A bluff is a steep or vertical cliff, typically found alongside rivers or coastal regions, formed predominantly due to erosional activities of water.
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How does a butte differ from a mesa?

A butte is smaller than a mesa but both have flat tops. A butte is characterized by its isolated hill structure with steep sides, while mesas are larger flat-topped elevations.
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Why are buttes significant in American culture?

Buttes, especially in the American West, have served as landmarks, navigational aids, and hold spiritual significance for indigenous peoples.
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Can buttes be found outside the USA?

Yes, while iconic in the American West, buttes can be found in various parts of the world, wherever erosional processes have shaped the landscape.
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What's the importance of bluffs in settlements?

Historically, bluffs have been strategic for settlements due to their elevated vantage points and natural defenses against potential threats.
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Can bluffs be found anywhere in the world?

Yes, bluffs can be found anywhere, but they're especially common in regions with significant water erosion, such as riverbanks or coastal areas.
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How are buttes formed?

Buttes are formed due to the erosional stripping away of a plateau's surrounding land, leaving behind the isolated, more resilient hill.
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Do buttes have ecological importance?

Yes, buttes can support unique ecosystems, providing habitats for specific flora and fauna adapted to the conditions of these isolated hills.
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Is bluffing only related to poker?

No, while bluffing is a term used in poker to describe pretending to have a strong hand, it can also refer to any act of deception or misleading in various contexts.
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Do bluffs always relate to physical features?

No, bluff can also refer to an act of deception, a direct manner of speaking, or even certain physical characteristics, like a broad face.
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Aug 19, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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