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

cover, defend, fence, fend, forfend, guard, keep, protect, safeguard, screen, secure, shield, ward

Antonyms: Verb

assail, assault, attack

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Examples of bulwark in a Sentence


democratic principles that stand as a bulwark against tyranny


vowed to use any means necessary to bulwark the country agai nst a terrorist attack

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Antaki sees these shops as bulwarks of individuality and diversity in a world increasingly dominated by international retail chains. Michael Hardy, WIRED, "Shopkeepers Around the World, Photographed With Their Wares," 24 June 2019 While House Democrats have a number of targets in their sights, the Senate has acted as a bulwark. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Corruption Is the Tie that Binds for Trump-Era Republicans," 11 June 2019 The move continues to stake California's position as a bulwark against the policies of Republican President Donald Trump. CBS News, "California clears way to provide health care to some immigrants," 10 June 2019 In 1943, the Supreme Court wrote the words below — words that represent a bulwark against the power of the state and a fortress around individual conscience. David French, National Review, "The Supreme Court Must Help This Christian Florist," 7 June 2019 Systems with elements of proportional representation, such as that sought by reformers of the electoral college or House districts, not only provide bulwarks against charges of illegitimacy. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 These consequences illustrate why California and Illinois lawmakers have been joined by legislators in Hawaii and Maryland in moving to put a collar on the short-term marketplace and erect a bulwark against Trumpcare. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "States start pushing back against Trump's junky short-term health plans," 23 May 2018 Both of these bulwarks aren’t as strong as a couple of years ago—consumers are more indebted and a separate campaign against off-balance sheet infrastructure fundraising is still crimping investment. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "China Risks Real Hard Landing This Time," 23 Jan. 2019 That support stretched beyond his base to other minority sects in Syria and some middle- and upper-class Sunnis who regard his family rule as a bulwark of stability in the face of Islamic radicals. Sarah El Deeb, The Seattle Times, "Syria’s Assad: Last man standing amid new Arab uprisings," 13 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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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Dictionary Entries near bulwark





bulwark plating


Bulwer's petrel

Statistics for bulwark

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bulwark

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on bulwark

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

Comments on bulwark

What made you want to look up bulwark? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

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