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 When Segre began sharing her story, the European Union was widely seen as a bulwark against the resurgence of ultranationalism. Cnaan Liphshiz, sun-sentinel.com, "Italian Holocaust survivor a hero to many, target to others," 7 Apr. 2021 Western pressure can sometimes backfire, analysts say, because Putin is so skilled at using Navalny’s plight to portray himself as a bulwark against outside meddling in Russian affairs. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "How dissident Alexei Navalny’s new standoff with Russia’s Putin could play out," 1 Apr. 2021 Putin resents the fact that NATO expanded to allow former Soviet vassal states into the transatlantic alliance, but the Central and Eastern European nations regard the security pact as a bulwark against a potential Russian invasion. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Kremlin is furious with Biden over ‘killer’ comment as experts see new low in U.S.-Russia relations," 18 Mar. 2021 The men who framed America’s constitution intended the Senate as a bulwark against the tyranny of the majority. The Economist, "The filibuster is an oddity that harms American democracy," 13 Mar. 2021 The Quad is a strategic group seen as a bulwark against Chinese expansionism. William Mauldin, WSJ, "Biden to Meet Virtually Friday With Leaders of Australia, Japan and India," 9 Mar. 2021 If your goal is saving up an emergency fund as a bulwark against financial turmoil down the road, a good strategy is to work toward setting aside three to six months’ worth of expenses. cleveland, "3 money habits to carry forward after the pandemic ends," 6 Mar. 2021 The Italian-Haitian designer sees the move as a bulwark against cultural appropriation that does not economically benefit Africans and a way to prevent racist gaffes. Colleen Barry, Star Tribune, "BLM in Italian Fashion campaign shows early tangible results," 23 Feb. 2021 Then in June 1944 McBride and the rest of the Thieves platoon landed on Saipan, a Japanese bulwark during World War II and a necessary stepping-stone for the Allies on the way to Tokyo. oregonlive, "Underage Marine became one of World War II’s daring ‘Thieves’ of Saipan; he landed in Oregon after military career," 9 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

13 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bulwark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulwark. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for bulwark



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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