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 The president favored nominees with a healthy respect for our constitutional principles who will stand as a bulwark against the progressive notion that there are few, if any, limits to the power of the federal government. Star Tribune, "Don't forget Trump's many achievements," 21 Jan. 2021 For a long time, Mr. Museveni and his party have cast themselves as a bulwark against a return to the violence and political strife that shaped Uganda in the 1970s and ’80s. New York Times, "Ugandans Voted Today. Will Their President of 35 Years Win Again?," 14 Jan. 2021 The shells of oysters, shucked or slurped at the city’s restaurants, are the raw material for this bulwark against waves, storms and rising seas. Tristan Baurick, NOLA.com, "New Orleans restaurants' oyster shells helped save the coast; can they again?," 16 Jan. 2021 The wins marked a short-term resurgence for the GOP, which has struggled for decades as the state became a blue bulwark. Stephanie Lai, Los Angeles Times, "Republican congressional wins in California won’t avert party’s ‘death spiral,’ analysts say," 4 Jan. 2021 The sheer scale of the demonstrations brought the world’s attention to the former Soviet state, regarded as a crucial bulwark between Russia and NATO allies in Western Europe. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "Belarus Is ‘Waiting for Biden’," 27 Dec. 2020 Since its founding in 1946, the CDC has grown from a regional bulwark against malaria in the southern United States to a world leader in fighting diseases of all kinds. David Willman, Anchorage Daily News, "The CDC’s failed race to roll out a virus test," 26 Dec. 2020 But what most consumers will likely find shocking—and laughable—is any suggestion that Silicon Valley giants like Twitter have been serving as some sort of bulwark against pornography. James Freeman, WSJ, "Twitter Has a Competitor," 8 Dec. 2020 The court, like the military, is considered a pillar of the country's royalist establishment, and the ultimate bulwark against threats to it. Star Tribune, "Thai leader faces court ruling that could cost him his job," 1 Dec. 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

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bulwark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulwark. Accessed 7 Mar. 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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