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 Seven months ago, congressional Republicans gave Trump a bulwark of support during his impeachment trial, with all but one of them — Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — voting to acquit. Phillip M. Bailey, USA TODAY, "GOP senators tip-toe around Trump as the party faces growing political dangers ahead of Nov. 3," 7 Aug. 2020 Merkel has not always lived up to her billing as the West's moral bulwark. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu, CNN, "'You cannot fight the pandemic with lies' -- Angela Merkel knows how to insert a dagger," 10 July 2020 Russia has long sought to undermine NATO, the broad American and European alliance founded during the Cold War, which emerged as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and has increasingly expanded toward Russia's border. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Barr: Russia may be 'manipulating' the International Criminal Court," 11 June 2020 The days are long gone when hundreds of thousands of American troops were stationed in Germany as a bulwark against the possibility of a Soviet invasion. David Rising, BostonGlobe.com, "Germany: US troop reduction could harm NATO security," 8 June 2020 Public universities are often a bulwark against the economic hollowing-out of many rural and nonurban communities. Kevin Carey, New York Times, "The ‘Public’ in Public College Could Be Endangered," 5 May 2020 The panel has been a bulwark of Republican dominance in the state over the last decade, along with a GOP majority in the state Legislature that has entrenched itself through aggressive gerrymandering. Astead W. Herndonand Alexander Burns, BostonGlobe.com, "Voting in Wisconsin during a pandemic: lines, masks and plenty of fear," 8 Apr. 2020 Scientists say the vast rainforest is a bulwark against global warming, as its lush vegetation absorbs heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Amazon fires fall sharply in September, spread elsewhere," 1 Oct. 2019 Afghanistan’s new democracy was intended to serve as a bulwark against the return of the Taliban, as well as terrorist groups like Al Qaeda that might use the country as a base for operations. Dan Xin Huang, The New Republic, "Afghanistan May Soon Have Peace. And the Cost Is Democracy.," 29 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bulwark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulwark. Accessed 14 Aug. 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

Spanish Central: Translation of bulwark

Nglish: Translation of bulwark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bulwark for Arabic Speakers

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