A butte is a conspicuous isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top; it is smaller than mesas, plateaus, and table landforms. In some regions, such as the north central and northwestern United States, the word is used for any hill. The word butte comes from aFrench word meaning "small hill"; its use is prevalent in the western United States, including the southwest, where "mesa" is also used. Because of their distinctive shapes, buttes are frequently key landmarks in both plains and mountainous areas.
In differentiating mesas and buttes, geographers use the rule that a mesa has a top wider than its height, while a butte's top is narrower.]
Among the well-known non-flat-topped buttes in the United States are Bear Butte, South Dakota, and Black Butte, Oregon. In many cases, buttes have been given other names that do not use the word butte, for example, Courthouse Rock, Nebraska. Also, some large hills that are technically not buttes have names using butte, an example of which is Kamiak Butte in Washington State.