\ ˈbü-ē How to pronounce buoy (audio) , ˈbȯi How to pronounce buoy (audio) \

Definition of buoy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : float sense 2 especially, nautical : a floating object moored to the bottom to mark a channel or something (such as a shoal) lying under the water swam out toward the buoy
2 : life buoy


buoyed; buoying; buoys

Definition of buoy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to mark by or as if by a float or buoy buoy an anchor
2a : to keep afloat a raft buoyed by empty oil drums
b : support, uplift an economy buoyed by the dramatic postwar growth of industryTime
3 : to raise the spirits of usually used with up hope buoys him up

intransitive verb

: float usually used with up They buoyed up like a cork.

Illustration of buoy

Illustration of buoy


buoy 1

In the meaning defined above

Examples of buoy in a Sentence


The tax breaks should help to buoy the economy.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Traditionally, researchers have estimated ocean temperatures using thermometer-equipped buoys. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Earth May Be Warming Even Faster Than We Thought," 2 Nov. 2018 Dye says rain associated with the hurricane has started to show up on radar off the Big Island of Hawaii and offshore buoys are detecting higher than normal waves. Fox News, "The Latest: Hurricane watch extended to Maui," 22 Aug. 2018 But an offshore buoy had read 17 feet at 25 seconds overnight, which meant that, in a few hours, the surf would be huge. Jeff Johnson, Outside Online, "Jeff Johnson on the First Time He Saved a Life," 11 July 2018 According to the Ocean Cleanup blog, a 60-foot section of the buoy broke off late December. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Project to Clean Up the Pacific Garbage Patch Is Literally Falling Apart," 8 Jan. 2019 And the glass orb pendant against the blue-green walls recalls a buoy on the water. Lisa Cregan, House Beautiful, "Gregory Shano on Decorating His Relaxed Long Island Retreat," 30 Mar. 2015 In the past, scientists and engineers have attempted to solve this problem with dedicated communications buoys, or simply by bringing subs and drones to the surface to send and receive signals. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Clever New Tech Could Let Subs and Planes Talk Directly," 22 Aug. 2018 The situation improved in 2007, when a global network of nearly 4,000 buoys, called Argo, went live. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Earth May Be Warming Even Faster Than We Thought," 2 Nov. 2018 The vortex lasted for days, large enough to swallow full-sized boats, so concerned lake officials immediately posted signs and buoys to keep visitors from getting sucked down the drain like a rubber duckie. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Texas Lake Developed a Boat-Swallowing Whirlpool," 3 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The dollar rose Tuesday, buoyed by gains against the Australian dollar after the Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates unchanged but expressed a cautious outlook on the Australian economy. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, "Pound Strengthens on Australia Warning," 2 Apr. 2019 Ultimately, Dallet prevailed in the primary and in the general election over Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock, a conservative whose campaign was buoyed by the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Susan Happ, Maria Lazar add their names to growing field of prospective Supreme Court candidates," 14 June 2018 In recent years, more and more women have ditched their razors, buoyed in part by body hair-happy celebrities, beauty brands, and the rest of us alike taking a definitive stance on body hair. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "Women Are Ditching Shaving for #Januhairy on Social Media," 5 Jan. 2019 As strong economic growth buoyed his control, Hun Sen began to assume the mantle of statesman and prepared his sons — appointed to important military positions — to be his political successors. Fox News, "Hun Sen plays hardball to keep his grip on Cambodia," 31 July 2018 Junk bonds are falling out of favor amid plans by the European Central Bank to wind down the asset-purchase program that’s buoyed credit markets since 2016. Tom Beardsworth, Bloomberg.com, "Hedge-Fund Diners Said to Talk Short-Selling as Bonds Turn," 5 June 2018 In net, there’s a three-time Stanley Cup champion that’s found a career renaissance in the desert while the offense has been buoyed by some of the NHL’s burgeoning stars. The Si Staff, SI.com, "Stanley Cup Final Preview: Top Storylines to Watch for in the Final," 25 May 2018 How your body floats will depend in part on your density (leaner people tend to sink more readily than those with more body fat) and the water’s density (heavier, high-salinity water like that in the Dead Sea buoys bodies up). Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Float," 16 May 2018 Their weekly overtime averaged a historically high 4.5 hours in October and November as the improving global economy and resurgent oil industry have buoyed manufacturers and the U.S. economy overall. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Jobs market: Labor shortage means longer hours but more cash for workers," 16 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'buoy.' 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 buoy


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for buoy

Noun and Verb

Middle English boye, probably from Middle Dutch boeye; akin to Old High German bouhhan sign — more at beacon

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Dictionary Entries near buoy



buon fresco





Statistics for buoy

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for buoy

The first known use of buoy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for buoy



English Language Learners Definition of buoy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an object that floats on water in a lake, bay, river, etc., to show areas that are safe or dangerous for boats



English Language Learners Definition of buoy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to feel happy or confident
: to lift or improve (something)


\ ˈbü-ē How to pronounce buoy (audio) , ˈbȯi\

Kids Definition of buoy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a floating object anchored in a body of water to mark a channel or to warn of danger
2 : life buoy


buoyed; buoying

Kids Definition of buoy (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to keep from sinking : keep afloat
2 : to brighten the mood of … if hope had not buoyed me up, I must have … given up.— Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped

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More from Merriam-Webster on buoy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with buoy

Spanish Central: Translation of buoy

Nglish: Translation of buoy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of buoy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about buoy

Comments on buoy

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


an enemy or opponent

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