bul·​wark | \ ˈbu̇l-(ˌ)wərk How to pronounce bulwark (audio) , -ˌwȯrk; ˈbəl-(ˌ)wərk; sense 3 also ˈbə-ˌläk \

Definition of bulwark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a solid wall-like structure raised for defense : rampart
b : breakwater, seawall building a bulwark in the harbor
2 : a strong support or protection democratic principles that stand as a bulwark against tyranny a bulwark of freedom
3 nautical : the side of a ship above the upper deck usually used in plural


bulwarked; bulwarking; bulwarks

Definition of bulwark (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to fortify or safeguard with a bulwark ability to bulwark a moral choice— Margaret Mead

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Synonyms & Antonyms for bulwark

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of bulwark in a Sentence

Noun democratic principles that stand as a bulwark against tyranny Verb vowed to use any means necessary to bulwark the country against a terrorist attack
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Coraline Land, however, defended Fauci's judgment, and confirmed that Santa does, in fact, have rare immune characteristics that act as a bulwark against SARS-CoV-2. Ryan Prior, CNN, "How Santa Claus will deliver presents safely in the Covid-19 pandemic, explained by kids," 19 Dec. 2020 The Second World War became the British Empire’s triumphant last stand as the bulwark of global liberty in the face of fascism, eliding Britain’s violent suppression of anticolonial resistance. Maya Jasanoff, The New Yorker, "Misremembering the British Empire," 26 Oct. 2020 To Karp, Palantir is nothing less than a bulwark of liberal democracy — and maybe all that stands between him and the realization of his worst fear, a world succumbing to fascism. Michael Steinberger, New York Times, "Does Palantir See Too Much?," 21 Oct. 2020 Texas has not voted Democrat for president since 1976, and the state has served as the bulwark of the Republican Party’s strength in Congress. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "GOP insiders worry about Trump's Texas bravado," 30 July 2020 While Ankara has been telling Western partners that its growing footprint in the ex-Soviet arena and the Middle East is a bulwark against an expansionist Russia, that doesn’t mean Turkey’s on the same page with them, said Kortunov. Henry Meyer, Bloomberg.com, "Can Erdogan Reconcile With the West? Putin’s Betting Against It," 12 Dec. 2020 Shared resources can be a bulwark against any financial threat, but keep a little money aside just for yourself. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Dec. 9, 2020: Happy birthday Simon Helberg; Capricorn, you deserve a raise," 9 Dec. 2020 According to the source, 84-year-old King Salman has been the primary bulwark against the agreement given the unresolved Palestinian issue; in contrast, next-in-line, 35-year-old MBS was keener to take the leap. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Behind the final Trump team push for Saudi Arabia to 'normalize' ties with Israel," 3 Dec. 2020 To secure the country’s political future and their own, Perdue and Loeffler should be making an affirmative case for themselves as a bulwark against Democratic control of the Senate. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "Perdue and Loeffler Should Stress Senate Elections’ Stakes, Not Attack GOP Officials," 13 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The goal is to bulwark oil and gas against ambitious climate change policies by claiming the moral high ground — even as those fuels kindle a global crisis that disproportionately harms people who aren’t white. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: The formal transition begins," 24 Nov. 2020 The company is hoping to bulwark itself in an uncertain economy. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Some are investing in the coronavirus. Warren Buffett isn’t," 4 May 2020 Iconic businesses would be boarded up, as if bulwarked against some invading army. James Ross Gardner, The New Yorker, "“Normal Is Not in Our Game Plan”: Seattle’s Fight to Survive the Spread of the Coronavirus," 21 Mar. 2020 But so is lasting peace, bulwarked by the safeguarding of human rights — particularly for Afghan women — and the prevention of Afghanistan again becoming a haven for terrorism. Chicago Tribune, Twin Cities, "Other voices: 3 questions about an Afghanistan peace deal," 8 Sep. 2019 Even Einstein, the prototypical loner, was bulwarked by a vast correspondence of arguing and discussion. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "Bob Dylan Won. But in Science, the Times They Aren’t A-Changin’.," 31 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bulwark.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bulwark


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bulwark

Noun and Verb

Middle English bulwerke, from Middle Dutch bolwerc, from bolle tree trunk + werc work

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Time Traveler for bulwark

Time Traveler

The first known use of bulwark was in the 15th century

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Statistics for bulwark

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bulwark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulwark. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bulwark


How to pronounce bulwark (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bulwark

formal : something that provides protection for or against something
: a wall that is built for protection
: a wall that is part of a ship's sides and that is above the ship's upper deck


bul·​wark | \ ˈbu̇l-wərk How to pronounce bulwark (audio) \

Kids Definition of bulwark

1 : a solid structure like a wall built for defense against an enemy
2 : something that defends or protects

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Comments on bulwark

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