1 of 2


: 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

Illustration of buoy

Illustration of buoy
  • buoy 1


2 of 2


buoyed; buoying; buoys

transitive verb

: to mark by or as if by a float or buoy
buoy an anchor
: to keep afloat
a raft buoyed by empty oil drums
: support, uplift
an economy buoyed by the dramatic postwar growth of industryTime
: 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.

Examples of buoy in a Sentence

Verb The tax breaks should help to buoy the economy.
Recent Examples on the Web
One of the bodies was discovered in the lines of orange buoys installed by Texas authorities, while the second one was found separately in the area of the buoys by the Beta Group of Piedras Negras. Nicole Froio, refinery29.com, 15 Nov. 2023 Spanning roughly 1,000 feet, the buoys are designed to prevent migrants from swimming or wading to the U.S. side, but state officials did not seek authorization from the federal government before installing them. Nick Miroff, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2023 That also includes deploying the buoys and razor wire. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Sep. 2023 The federal government is suing Texas for another impediment — a line of wrecking-ball-sized orange buoys positioned in the middle of the Rio Grande. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 2 Oct. 2023 It was tied up in some lobster buoys, Bryer recalled. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 30 Aug. 2023 Continued sticky dew points in the 60s help buoy temperatures, keeping them in the same range. A. Camden Walker, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2023 The legislation comes as Texas is battling with the Biden administration over its efforts to build a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande. Adam Shaw, Fox News, 3 Oct. 2023 Many view the buoy barrier and razor wire as steps too far. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Sep. 2023
Arevalo has also been buoyed by massive demonstrations in his favor organized by Guatemala’s large and long-oppressed Indigenous communities. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 The negotiations, which began in April, came as a number of unions across industries press employers for better pay and benefits, buoyed by a shortage of workers. Reuters, NBC News, 9 Nov. 2023 But the 2023 economy is showing the opposite, buoyed by a tight labor market and the spending of consumers nationwide. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2023 What about markets: In a twist, the prospect of a steady Fed policy buoyed markets and sent Treasury yields lower on Tuesday. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 11 Oct. 2023 Ukraine’s fight to oust occupying Russian forces is being bolstered by a growing array of heavy American armaments – buoying fighters’ hopes even as analysts warn that weapons alone can’t guarantee victory. Anna Mulrine Grobe, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Sep. 2023 Interviews with more than a dozen industry veterans — including executives, talent agents and producers — revealed deep anxiety about the turmoil in the business as consumers switch to streaming, abandoning lucrative pay-TV bundles that have long buoyed the industry. Meg James, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2023 Revenue at the company’s theme parks rose 17.2%, buoyed by new activity at its international operations. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 26 Oct. 2023 Citigroup booked $844 million in investment-banking fees for the three months that ended September 30, buoyed by stronger results in stock and bond underwriting. Charley Grant, WSJ, 13 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'buoy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1596, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near buoy

Cite this Entry

“Buoy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buoy. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


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


2 of 2 verb
: to keep from sinking : keep afloat
: to brighten the mood of
the news buoyed him up
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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