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 In many countries, especially America, healthy labour markets and confident consumers are bulwarks against one. The Economist, "The World in 2020 Prepare for an unusual kind of downturn," 30 Dec. 2019 Scientists are counting on mangroves and other more salt-tolerant plants to migrate inland into the saw grass plains, establishing a new, natural bulwark against climate change. Allen G. Breed, sun-sentinel.com, "To save the Everglades, guardians fight time — and climate," 3 Dec. 2019 Many American strategists still view joining the existing TPP (or the CPTPP, as it’s now called) as the best way to create an economic bulwark against Chinese expansion, backing regional allies and setting the terms of global trade. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "How the USMCA sets the stage for the future of trade," 18 Dec. 2019 Large corporations have certainly contributed to the expansion of LGBTQ equality in the United States and have, in the last few years, served as an important bulwark to protect those gains from conservative backlash. Nick Lehr, Quartz at Work, "The unique role corporations played in the fight for LGBTQ rights," 18 Nov. 2019 Efforts to protect these areas—seen by experts as a critical bulwark against deforestation—are faltering. Scott Wallace, National Geographic, "Murder in the Amazon heightens fears for isolated tribes," 27 Sep. 2019 Casten’s election and his support for impeachment may signal the further erosion of Republican support in DuPage County, once considered a major bulwark of the suburban GOP firewall that could counter Democrats in Chicago and Cook County. Rick Pearson, chicagotribune.com, "Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, who flipped Republican seat in 2018, says he’ll vote for impeachment," 12 Dec. 2019 But in this case, the region’s human inhabitants, the 35,000 Arhuaco—along with the indigenous Kogi, Wiwa, and Kankuamo, who collectively number about 50,000—have been its bulwark. Stephen Ferry, National Geographic, "Indigenous protectors of these sacred peaks have kept others out—till now," 26 Nov. 2019 Though Macy’s has struggled in recent years with slumping sales amid online competition and changing customer taste, its parade remains a bulwark of broadcast television and a tradition within American homes. Elizabeth Nonemaker, baltimoresun.com, "Behind the scenes as Morgan State’s Magnificent Marching Machine prepares for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade," 22 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bulwark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulwark?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=b&file=bulwar01. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on bulwark

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bulwark

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bulwark

Spanish Central: Translation of bulwark

Nglish: Translation of bulwark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bulwark for Arabic Speakers

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