AskDefine | Define bridge

Dictionary Definition



1 a structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river or canal or railway etc. [syn: span]
2 a circuit consisting of two branches (4 arms arranged in a diamond configuration) across which a meter is connected [syn: bridge circuit]
3 something resembling a bridge in form or function; "his letters provided a bridge across the centuries"
4 the hard ridge that forms the upper part of the nose; "her glasses left marks on the bridge of her nose"
5 any of various card games based on whist for four players
6 a wooden support that holds the strings up
7 a denture anchored to teeth on either side of missing teeth [syn: bridgework]
8 the link between two lenses; rests on nose [syn: nosepiece]
9 an upper deck where a ship is steered and the captain stands [syn: bridge deck]


1 connect or reduce the distance between [syn: bridge over]
2 make a bridge across; "bridge a river"
3 cross over on a bridge

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /brɪdʒ/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪdʒ

Etymology 1

brycg, from *|brugjā-. Cognate with Dutch brug, German Brücke.


  1. A construction or natural feature that spans a divide.
    The rope bridge crosses the river.
  2. The upper bony ridge of the human nose.
    Rugby players often break the bridge of their noses.
  3. A prosthesis replacing one or several adjacent teeth.
    The dentist pulled out the decayed tooth and put in a bridge.
  4. An elevated platform above the upper deck of a mechanically propelled ship from which it is navigated and from which all activities on deck can be seen and controlled by the captain, etc; smaller ships have a wheelhouse, and sailing ships were controlled from a quarterdeck.
    The first officer is on the bridge.
  5. The piece, on string instruments, that support the strings from the sounding board.
  6. A device which connects two or more computer buses, typically in a transparent manner.
    This chip is the bridge between the front-side bus and the I/O bus.
  7. A system which connects two or more local area networks at layer 2.
    The LAN bridge uses a spanning tree algorithm.
  8. A song contained within another song, often demarcated by meter, key, or melody.
    The lyrics in the song's bridge inverted its meaning.
  9. A valence bond, atom or chain of atoms that connects two different parts of a molecule; the atoms so connected being bridgeheads.
  10. An unintended solder connection between two or more components or pins.
  11. Any of several electrical devices that measure characteristics such as impedance and inductance by balancing different parts of a circuit
  12. A particular form of one hand placed on the table to support the cue when making a shot in cue sports.
  13. A cue modified with a convex arch-shaped notched head attached to the narrow end, used to support a player's (shooter's) cue for extended or tedious shots. Also called a spider.
  14. A statement, such as an offer, that signals a possibility of accord.
construction or natural feature that spans a divide
bony ridge of the nose
replacement for teeth

Etymology 2

  1. Name of an older card game biritch probably Russian - OED


  1. A card game played normally with four players playing as two teams of two players each.
    Bidding is an essential element of the game "Bridge".
card game
  • Bosnian: bridž
  • Catalan: bridge
  • Czech: bridž
  • Danish: bridge
  • Dutch: bridge
  • French: bridge
  • German: Bridge
  • Hungarian: bridzs
  • Italian: bridge
  • Latvian: bridžs
  • Polish: brydż
  • Russian: бридж
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: бриџ
    Roman: bridž
  • Slovene: bridž
  • Spanish: bridge
  • Swedish: bridge
  • Turkish: köprü
  • Ukrainian: брідж (bridž)

Etymology 3



  1. To be or make a bridge over something.
    With enough cable, we can bridge this gorge.
  2. To span as if with a bridge.
    The two groups were able to bridge their differences.
  3. To transition from one piece or section of music to another without stopping.
    We need to bridge that jam into "The Eleven".



fr-noun m
  1. Bridge; a game of cards.
  2. A game of bridge.



  1. Bridge; a game of cards.

Extensive Definition

A bridge is a structure built to span a gorge, valley, road, railroad track, river, body of water, or any other physical obstacle, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. Designs of bridges will vary depending on the function of the bridge and the nature of the terrain where the bridge is to be constructed.


The first bridges were made by nature — as simple as a log fallen across a stream. The first bridges made by humans were probably spans of wooden logs or planks and eventually stones, using a simple support and crossbeam arrangement. Most of these early bridges could not support heavy weights or withstand strong currents. It was these inadequacies which led to the development of better bridges.
Epic literature of India provides mythological accounts of bridges constructed from India to Lanka by the army of Rama. The Arthashastra of Kautilya mentions the construction of dams and bridges. A Mauryan bridge near Girnar was surveyed by James Princep. The use of stronger bridges using plaited bamboo and iron chain was visible in India by about the 4th century. A number of bridges, both for military and commercial purposes, were constructed by the Mughal administration in India.
The ancient Romans built arch bridges and aqueducts that could stand in conditions that would damage or destroy earlier designs. Some of them still stand today. An example is the Alcántara Bridge, built over the river Tagus, in Spain. Most earlier bridges would have been swept away by the strong current. The Romans also used cement, which reduced the variation of strength found in natural stone. One type of cement, called pozzolana, consisted of water, lime, sand, and volcanic rock. Brick and mortar bridges were built after the Roman era, as the technology for cement was lost then later rediscovered.
Although large Chinese bridges of wooden construction existed at the time of the Warring States, the oldest surviving stone bridge in China is the Zhaozhou Bridge, built from 595 to 605 AD during the Sui Dynasty. This bridge is also historically significant as it is the world's oldest open-spandrel stone segmental arch bridge. European segmental arch bridges date back to at least the Alconétar Bridge (approximately 2nd century AD), while the enormous Roman era Trajan's Bridge (105 AD) featured open-spandrel segmental arches in wooden construction.
Rope bridges, a simple type of suspension bridge, were used by the Inca civilization in the Andes mountains of South America, just prior to European colonization in the 1500s.
During the 18th century there were many innovations in the design of timber bridges by Hans Ulrich, Johannes Grubenmann, and others. The first book on bridge engineering was written by Hubert Gautier in 1716.
With the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, truss systems of wrought iron were developed for larger bridges, but iron did not have the tensile strength to support large loads. With the advent of steel, which has a high tensile strength, much larger bridges were built, many using the ideas of Gustave Eiffel.


The Oxford English Dictionary traces the origin of the word bridge to an Old English word brycg, of the same meaning, derived from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic root brugjō. There are cognates in other Germanic languages (for instance Brücke in German, brug in Dutch, brúgv in Faroese or bro in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish).
Another theory suggests that "bridge" comes from Turkish "köprü" (lit. bridge). It is highly possible that Turkish lent this word to Eastern European languages and then, in time, it arrived in English. "Köprü" itself is derived from "köprük (köpük)" which literally means "foam". The word for the Pope, pontiff, comes from the Latin word pontifex meaning "bridge builder" or simply "builder". The word "Pope" however comes from "papa" meaning "father".

Types of bridges

There are six main types of bridges: beam bridges, cantilever bridges, arch bridges, suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges and truss bridges.

Beam bridges

Beam bridges are horizontal beams supported at each end by piers. The earliest beam bridges were simple logs that sat across streams and similar simple structures. In modern times, beam bridges are large box steel girder bridges. Weight on top of the beam pushes straight down on the piers at either end of the bridge.

Cantilever bridges

Cantilever bridges are built using cantilevers — horizontal beams that are supported on only one end. Most cantilever bridges use two cantilever arms extending from opposite sides of the obstacle to be crossed, meeting at the center. The largest cantilever bridge is the 549-ft. Quebec Bridge in Quebec, Canada.

Arch bridges

Arch bridges are arch-shaped and have abutments at each end. The earliest known arch bridges were built by the Greeks and include the Arkadiko Bridge. The weight of the bridge is thrusted into the abutments at either side. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is currently building the largest arch bridge in the world, which is scheduled for completion in 2012.

Suspension bridges

Suspension bridges are suspended from cables. The earliest suspension bridges were made of ropes or vines covered with pieces of bamboo. In modern bridges, the cables hang from towers that are attached to caissons or cofferdams. The caissons or cofferdams are implanted deep into the floor of a lake or river. The longest suspension bridge in the world is the 12,826-ft. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan.

Cable-stayed bridges

Like suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges are held up by cables. However, in a cable-stayed bridge, less cable is required and the towers holding the cables are proportionately shorter. The first known cable-stayed bridge was designed in 1784 by C.T. Loescher. The longest cable-stayed bridge is the Tatara Bridge in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan.

Truss bridges

Truss bridges are composed of connected elements. They have a solid deck and a lattice of pin-jointed girders for the sides. Early truss bridges were made of wood, but modern truss bridges are made of metals such as wrought iron and steel. The Quebec Bridge, mentioned above as a cantilever bridge, is also the world's longest truss bridge.

By use

A bridge is designed for trains, pedestrian or road traffic, a pipeline or waterway for water transport or barge traffic. An aqueduct is a bridge that carries water, resembling a viaduct, which is a bridge that connects points of equal height. A road-rail bridge carries both road and rail traffic.
Bridges are subject to unplanned uses as well. The areas underneath some bridges have become makeshift shelters and homes to homeless people, and the undersides of bridges all around the world are spots of prevalent graffiti. Some bridges attract people attempting suicide, and become known as suicide bridges.

Decorative or ceremonial

To create a beautiful image, some bridges are built much taller than necessary. This type, often found in east-Asian style gardens, is called a Moon bridge, evoking a rising full moon. Other garden bridges may cross only a dry bed of stream washed pebbles, intended only to convey an impression of a stream. Often in palaces a bridge will be built over an artificial waterway as symbolic of a passage to an important place or state of mind. A set of five bridges cross a sinuous waterway in an important courtyard of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the People's Republic of China. The central bridge was reserved exclusively for the use of the Emperor, Empress, and their attendants.

The differences & similarities in bridge structure

Double-decker bridges have two levels, such as the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, with two road levels. Tsing Ma Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge in Hong Kong have six lanes on their upper decks, and on their lower decks there are two lanes and a pair of tracks for MTR metro trains. Some double-decker bridges only use one level for street traffic; the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis reserves its lower level for automobile traffic and its upper level for pedestrian and bicycle traffic (predominantly students at the University of Minnesota).
Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge across the River Tyne in Newcastle upon Tyne, completed in 1849, is an early example of a double-deck bridge. The upper level carries a railway, and the lower level is used for road traffic.
Another example is Craigavon Bridge in Derry, Northern Ireland. The Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö consists of a four-lane highway on the upper level and a pair of railway tracks at the lower level.
The George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York has two roadway levels. It was built with only the upper roadway as traffic demands did not require more capacity. A truss work between the roadway levels provides stiffness to the roadways and reduced movement of the upper level when installed.

More than just a bridge

  • Some bridges carry special installations such as the tower of Nový Most bridge in Bratislava which carries a restaurant. On other suspension bridge towers transmission antennas are installed.
  • Costs and cost overruns in bridge construction have been studied by Flyvbjerg et al. (2003). The average cost overrun in building a bridge was found to be 34%.

Visual index

Index to types

Index to related topics


Most bridges are built for economic reasons, meaning they are cost justified. As the size and cost go up it becomes more difficult to cost justify bridges. Some of the largest and most costly bridges in the world are built for political reasons, namely to tie together otherwise isolated areas.


General references

  • Brown, David J. Bridges: Three Thousand Years of Defying Nature. Richmond Hill, Ont: Firefly Books, 2005. ISBN 1-55407-099-6.
  • Sandak, Cass R. Bridges. An Easy-read modern wonders book. New York: F. Watts, 1983. ISBN 0-531-04624-9.
  • Whitney, Charles S. Bridges of the World: Their Design and Construction. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-486-42995-4.
Unabridged republication of Bridges : a study in their art, science, and evolution. 1929.
  • Dikshitar, V. R. R. Dikshitar (1993). The Mauryan Polity. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 8120810236.
  • Dutt, Romesh Chunder (2000). A History of Civilisation in Ancient India: Vol II. Routledge. ISBN 0415231884.
  • Nath, R. (1982). History of Mughal Architecture. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 8170171598.
  • Kinney, A. R.; el al. (2003). Worshiping Siva and Buddha: The Temple Art of East Java. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824827791.
  • Buck, William; el al. (2000). Ramayana. University of California Press. ISBN 0520227034

External links

bridge in Arabic: جسر
bridge in Aymara: Chaka
bridge in Azerbaijani: Körpü
bridge in Min Nan: Kiô (kau-thong)
bridge in Bosnian: Most
bridge in Breton: Pont
bridge in Bulgarian: Мост
bridge in Catalan: Pont
bridge in Cebuano: Tulay
bridge in Czech: Most
bridge in Welsh: Pont
bridge in Danish: Bro (konstruktion)
bridge in German: Brücke
bridge in Estonian: Sild
bridge in Modern Greek (1453-): Γέφυρα
bridge in Spanish: Puente
bridge in Esperanto: Ponto
bridge in Basque: Zubi
bridge in Extremaduran: Puenti
bridge in Persian: پل
bridge in French: Pont
bridge in Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid
bridge in Galician: Ponte
bridge in Korean: 다리
bridge in Hindi: सेतु
bridge in Croatian: Most
bridge in Indonesian: Jembatan
bridge in Inuktitut: ᑭᒍᑎᙳᐊᑦ ᓂᐱᑎᓯᒪᔪᑦ/kigutinnguat nipitisimajut
bridge in Ossetian: Хид (арæзтад)
bridge in Icelandic: Brú
bridge in Italian: Ponte
bridge in Hebrew: גשר
bridge in Javanese: Kreteg
bridge in Georgian: ხიდი
bridge in Ladino: Ponte
bridge in Lao: ຂົວ
bridge in Latin: Pons
bridge in Luxembourgish: Bréck (Architektur)
bridge in Lithuanian: Tiltas
bridge in Lojban: cripu
bridge in Hungarian: Híd
bridge in Malay (macrolanguage): Jambatan
bridge in Dutch: Brug (bouwwerk)
bridge in Dutch Low Saxon: Brogge (bouwwark)
bridge in Japanese: 橋
bridge in Norwegian: Bro
bridge in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bru
bridge in Narom: Pont
bridge in Uzbek: Koʻprik
bridge in Low German: Brüch
bridge in Polish: Most
bridge in Portuguese: Ponte
bridge in Romanian: Pod
bridge in Quechua: Chaka
bridge in Russian: Мост
bridge in Albanian: Ura
bridge in Simple English: Bridge
bridge in Slovak: Most
bridge in Slovenian: Most
bridge in Serbian: Мост
bridge in Serbo-Croatian: Most
bridge in Finnish: Silta
bridge in Swedish: Bro
bridge in Tamil: பாலம்
bridge in Telugu: వంతెన
bridge in Thai: สะพาน
bridge in Vietnamese: Cầu
bridge in Tajik: Кӯпрук
bridge in Turkish: Köprü (yapı)
bridge in Ukrainian: Міст (споруда)
bridge in Contenese: 橋
bridge in Chinese: 橋

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

A string, Amati, Bifrost, Boston, Cremona, D string, E string, Earl of Coventry, G string, L, Pit, Polish bank, R, Russian bank, Strad, Stradivari, Stradivarius, Texas tower, accouple, accumulate, acting area, agglutinate, all fours, alveolar ridge, amass, anacrusis, apron, apron stage, arch over, articulate, assemble, associate, baccarat, backstage, band, band shell, bandstand, banker, bascule bridge, bass, bass passage, bass viol, bateau bridge, beacon, belvedere, bestraddle, bestride, blackjack, bleachers, bluff, board, bond, bourdon, bow, bracket, brag, bridge over, bridgework, bull fiddle, burden, cadence, canasta, cantilever bridge, casino, catwalk, cello, cement, chain, chorus, clap together, coda, collect, combine, commerce, commit, comprise, concatenate, conglobulate, conjoin, conjugate, connect, connection, connections, conning tower, contrabass, contract, contract bridge, copulate, coulisse, couple, cover, cribbage, crowd, dental bridge, dentition, denture, development, division, dock, double bass, drawbridge, dressing room, ecarte, embrace, encompass, euchre, exposition, extend over, false teeth, faro, fiddle, fiddlebow, fiddlestick, figure, fingerboard, five hundred, flies, flinch, floating bridge, fly floor, fly gallery, flyover, folderol, footbridge, forestage, fright, frog, gallery, gangboard, gangplank, gangway, gather, gazebo, gin, gin rummy, glue, go over, goat, grandstand, greenroom, grid, gridiron, gums, hang over, harmonic close, hearts, imbricate, include, interlude, intermezzo, introductory phrase, ivories, join, jut, keno, kit, kit fiddle, kit violin, knot, lansquenet, lap, lap over, lay together, league, lie over, lift bridge, lightboard, lighthouse, link, loo, lookout, loophole, lottery, lotto, lump together, marry, marshal, mass, matrimony, measure, merge, mobilize, monte, movement, musical phrase, musical sentence, napoleon, observation post, observatory, old maid, ombre, orchestra, orchestra pit, ornament, outlook, overarch, overbridge, overcrossing, overhang, overlap, overlie, overlook, overpass, override, pair, part, pass over, passage, patience, peanut gallery, peephole, penny ante, performing area, period, periodontal tissue, pharos, phrase, picquet, piece together, pit, plate, poker, pontoon bridge, proscenium, proscenium stage, put together, put-and-take, quadrille, refrain, resolution, response, reverse, ringside, ringside seat, ritornello, roll into one, rope bridge, rouge et noir, rum, rummy, scroll, section, set of teeth, seven-up, shell, shingle, sighthole, skat, snipsnapsnorum, solder, solitaire, soundboard, span, speculation, splice, stage, stage left, stage right, stanza, statement, stepping-stone, stepstone, stick together, straight poker, strain, string, stud poker, suspension bridge, swing bridge, switchboard, tailpiece, take in, tape, teeth, tenor violin, the boards, thirty-one, tie, toll bridge, top gallery, tower, traverse, tuning peg, tutti, tutti passage, twenty-one, unify, unite, uppers and lowers, variation, verse, viaduct, vingt-et-un, viola, violin, violinette, violoncello, violoncello piccolo, violone, violotta, watchtower, weld, whist, wings, yoke
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