\ 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

Now, the Ocean Cleanup has hit another snag: Its buoy appears to be breaking up. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The Project to Clean Up the Pacific Garbage Patch Is Literally Falling Apart," 8 Jan. 2019 This buoy south of Long Island also apparently recorded the phenomenon, the weather service said. Martin Finucane, BostonGlobe.com, "There was a meteotsunami last night off the coast. What’s that?," 16 May 2018 Horton had attached a single glass loop to the exterior, midway down the side, from which the trap might be hung from dock or buoy, suspended in tide. C.j. Chivers, Popular Mechanics, "Meet the Man Glassblowing These Gorgeous Retro Fishing Lures," 26 Apr. 2016 Quantitative easing lets central banks which have already lowered interest rates to close to zero buoy faltering economies by buying government bonds and other debt to reduce long-term interest rates. Brian Blackstone, WSJ, "ECB Stimulus’s Mixed Legacy: Economic Success, Political Fiasco," 12 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The purchase is buoyed by a promise by the manufacturer that the jet is now, for some reason, 20 percent cheaper. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What’s Going on With Russia’s New Stealth Fighter?," 18 May 2019 Unlike banks, these lenders don’t have deposits to fund themselves and generally don’t have other lines of business to buoy them when housing is slow. Christina Rexrode, WSJ, "Retreat of Smaller Lenders Adds to Pressure on Housing," 22 Nov. 2018 The deal buoys senior bondholders the most, paying them 93% of the value of their original bonds, which are trading near 85 cents on the dollar. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Hedge Funds Bask in Puerto Rico Bond Deal," 9 Feb. 2019 The report is a reversal from a Reuters story Thursday that suggested Russian officials were likely to cut output in tandem with OPEC next week, news that had buoyed prices. Christopher Alessi, WSJ, "Oil Pulls Back on Doubts Over Producers’ Willingness to Cut Output," 30 Nov. 2018 But the factors that buoyed the chain’s expansion — the growth of malls and shopping centers and big-box stores that sell everything — have reversed, with the rise of Amazon and other online retailers leading to dwindling foot traffic and sales. Tiffany Hsu, The Seattle Times, "Barnes & Noble struggles to survive; founder is confident of turnaround," 28 Aug. 2018 But Dern brings the honesty and spirit that buoy the whole film, as Jennifer courageously suffers for the truth. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "From a too-painful truth, a riveting ‘Tale’," 22 May 2018 There’s nothing not to like about his eager tale of a heady romance — or the precise production that buoys his airy tone. Raisa Bruner, Time, "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week," 12 Jan. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about buoy

Dictionary Entries near buoy



buon fresco





Statistics for buoy

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for buoy

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!