\ ˈbü-ē , ˈbȯi \

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

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 The buoys provided an opportunity for crucial early warning signs. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Indonesia's Tsunami Warning System Hasn't Been Operational Since 2012," 1 Oct. 2018 The buoy was installed on March 2, and already it’s logging records. Angela Fritz, Washington Post, "Massive 78-foot wave recorded in Southern Ocean — a new record," 14 May 2018 The buoy can only operate for 20 minutes every three hours, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, "Massive wave sets southern hemisphere record, scientists say," 11 May 2018 Werner says the video simulation has helped his team better understand how whales unwittingly — and often lethally — wrap themselves in the fishing buoy lines that hang vertically in the ocean. William J. Kole, The Seattle Times, "Simulator helps experts understand how whales get entangled," 21 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That legacy, buoyed by the ongoing love for the Back to the Future films, keeps the car in the public imagination, and gave Wynne the ammunition to pursue a plan that's much more ambitious than simply getting a 36-year-old car back on the road. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Car Company That's Resurrecting the DeLorean," 18 Jan. 2019 Markets have traded higher since last Friday, buoyed by a strong December hiring report and Mr. Powell’s more market-friendly tone during a question-and-answer session in Atlanta. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Is Unlikely to Raise Rates in Next Months, Minutes Show," 9 Jan. 2019 The Ligue 1 side continued to press, clearly buoyed by the audibly pro-Marseille crowd -- the final being played just 300 kilometers away in Lyon -- and center back Adil Rami spun and cracked a shot narrowly past the post. Matias Grez, CNN, "Antoine Griezmann masterclass guides Atletico Madrid to Europa League title," 16 May 2018 Much of the 2018 surge was buoyed by a massive spike in women candidates, many of whom said they were driven to run because of Trump’s presidency. Li Zhou, Vox, "This year’s elections are changing Congress for the better," 6 Dec. 2018 This assumption was buoyed by various historical accounts, indicating that in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, natives dried and ground up cacao seeds to make gruels and beverages. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chocolate has an even earlier origin than we thought, new study finds," 29 Oct. 2018 The Raptors' ball movement has been great, their depth has been stellar and their shooting — buoyed by DeMar DeRozan stretching his range beyond the three-point line — has been lethal. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks ready for the difficult stretch that awaits them out of the break," 22 Feb. 2018 He has also been buoyed by a historic split in the ultra-Orthodox electorate, which did not vote en masse in the first round. Aron Heller, The Seattle Times, "Jerusalem picks new mayor in round 2 of municipal elections," 13 Nov. 2018 Since winning office, Trump has been buoyed by a strong economy. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Republicans are paying the Trump tax," 7 Nov. 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 Feb 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 , 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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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