\ 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

Verb The tax breaks should help to buoy the economy.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Early on Wednesday morning, a buoy located about 300 miles west of Ireland recorded a 98 foot (30 meter) wave! Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Showers and gusty winds on Sunday.," 31 Oct. 2020 An acoustic receiver attached to a single buoy moored in the Santa Barbara Channel constantly listens for whale vocalizations. Popular Science, "Whale ‘roadkill’ is on the rise off California. A new detection system could help.," 29 Sep. 2020 Newenhouse then connected the countries together with thread to hold a life-ring buoy. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "From London to Cedarburg, more than 500 pandemic-themed quilts from across the world tell the story of quarantine," 9 Sep. 2020 Jonathan Young stood chest-deep in the brackish waters of the Presidio’s Crissy Marsh and tugged on a rope tied to a glass buoy. Nora Mishanec, SFChronicle.com, "Enticing oysters to Presidio’s Crissy Field takes a bit of science and engineering," 5 Oct. 2020 When the buoy bobs on waves and tugs on the mooring, that stretchy bit coming off the instrument stays silent, allowing the hydrophone to listen for whales undisturbed. Matt Simon, Wired, "Want to Save the Whales? Eavesdrop on Their Calls," 17 Sep. 2020 Floating near the shipping lanes of the Santa Barbara Channel, the buoy is attached to an underwater microphone, known as a hydrophone, positioned 200 meters deep on the seafloor. Matt Simon, Wired, "Want to Save the Whales? Eavesdrop on Their Calls," 17 Sep. 2020 First, a buoy equipped with an underwater microphone listens for whale songs in the Santa Barbara Channel and uses an algorithm to automatically identify the calls of humpback, fin and blue whales before beaming the detection to a satellite. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Innovative New Whale Detection System Aims to Prevent Ships From Striking Animals," 17 Sep. 2020 The buoy was about 100 yards from shore, according to a post on the South Haven Area Emergency Services Facebook page about the incident. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "18-year-old missing, presumed drowned in Lake Michigan as rough water closes beach," 8 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The many subcultures whose complaints buoy the larger, nebulous cancel culture tend to fixate on minutiae, which can distract from attempts to achieve broader change. New York Times, "The Long and Tortured History of Cancel Culture," 3 Dec. 2020 But the next step—ensuring that tribal nations can proactively create self-sufficient economies that don’t have to rely on extraction or hazardous industrial activities to buoy them—remains a problem with answers as varied as the tribes themselves. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Indian Country Refuses to Be Corporate America’s Dumping Ground," 12 Jan. 2021 Unlike Fotografiska, which is sticking to in-person ticket sales as its main source of revenue, Meow Wolf has experimented with online programming to buoy itself through the pandemic. New York Times, "Entrepreneurs Bet Big on Immersive Art Despite Covid-19," 10 Jan. 2021 NPD Group estimates that overall holiday retail sales are up 2% from last year through Dec. 12, as fewer promotions and higher online sales buoy the industry. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, "Nike Powers Through Pandemic With Digital Push," 18 Dec. 2020 Bigsby had 112 rushing yards after halftime — including runs of 27, 15, 15 and 24 yards in the fourth quarter alone — to buoy Auburn’s offense. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Instant analysis: No style points, but Auburn closes season with win at Mississippi State," 12 Dec. 2020 Eventually, nursing-home operators say, demographics will buoy their industry, as more baby boomers require institutional care. Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, "Covid Spurs Families to Shun Nursing Homes, a Shift That Appears Long Lasting," 21 Dec. 2020 For starters, the deal doesn’t yet include stimulus checks that could buoy the finances of all Americans, unemployed or not, and help prod the economy along. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Congress’s Theater of Compromise and the Death of Covid Relief," 8 Dec. 2020 But the indications that two fundamentally different forms of the technology can outperform supercomputers will buoy the hopes—and investments—of the embryonic industry. Tom Simonite, Wired, "China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy," 3 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for buoy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for buoy

Cite this Entry

“Buoy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buoy. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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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