1816, from Latin via "road" (see via) + -duct as in aqueduct. French viaduc is a 19c. English loan-word.
An extensive bridge consisting, strictly of a series of arches of masonry, erected for the purpose of conducting a road or a railway a valley or a district of low level, or over existing channels of communication, where an embankment would be impracticable or inexpedient; more widely, any elevated roadway which artificial constructions of timber, iron, bricks, or stonework are established. [Century Dictionary]
But the word apparently was coined by English landscape gardener Humphry Repton (1752-1818) for an architectural feature, "a form of bridge adapted to the purposes of passing over, which may unite strength with grace, or use with beauty ...."
updated on September 25, 2018