\ 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

One town on the seashore narrowly rejected a $100,000 shark fence at an annual town meeting and money donated by the community for the shark-detecting buoy was returned, the Cape Cod Times reported. Colleen Cronin, PEOPLE.com, "1 Year After Deadly Great White Attack, 'Shark-Smart' Cape Cod Works to Prevent More Deaths," 28 June 2019 The swimmer, clutching the buoy Carlson gave him, surfaced unhurt. Hillary Davis, latimes.com, "Newport Beach designates day to honor fallen lifeguard Ben Carlson," 26 June 2019 The Coast Guard is looking for brass sound signaling devices that have been stolen from buoy’s off the coast of Maine in the last six months. Laney Ruckstuhl, BostonGlobe.com, "Coast Guard searches for stolen buoy bells taken off Maine coast," 1 June 2018 Under its current plans, Phillips 66 is seeking permission to build two offshore buoys about 27 miles east of Port Aransas. Houston Chronicle, "Phillips 66 seeks to build offshore crude oil export terminal near Corpus Christi," 19 June 2019 Researchers can receive sound from up to four buoys at once and point them toward the source. Washington Post, "Scientists record singing by rare right whale for first time," 19 June 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The dog in the burning house, the face palm, the man settling in to eat popcorn and watch the spectacle: these things are buoyed by the familiarity of their occurrence. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Art of Aphorism," 15 July 2019 Both stocks have enjoyed double-digit gains this year, buoyed by prospects that the Fed would cut interest rates, stimulating the U.S. housing market. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "Home-Improvement Stocks Hammered Amid Powell Comments," 10 July 2019 Still, the action shows that Amazon workers, buoyed by a tight labor market and employee activism elsewhere, have been emboldened to demand better treatment. Josh Eidelson And Spencer Soper, latimes.com, "Amazon workers plan Prime Day strike at Minnesota warehouse," 8 July 2019 Far From Home, buoyed by glowing reviews and stellar audience exit scores, was able to avoid the franchise fatigue that has plagued a slew of other franchise installments this summer. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Box Office: How 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Beat Franchise Fatigue," 8 July 2019 Still, the action shows that Amazon workers, buoyed by a tight labor market and employee activism elsewhere, have been emboldened to demand better treatment. Josh Eidelson, chicagotribune.com, "Amazon workers in Minnesota planning to strike on Prime Day," 8 July 2019 Meanwhile, the number of Muslims, who make up just under one-quarter of the world’s population, is growing quickly, buoyed by youthful demographics and high fertility rates. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "‘Our Duty to Fight’: The Rise of Militant Buddhism," 8 July 2019 Back to back trips to the World Series, buoyed by all that money and ability — with no rings to show for it. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Machado’s ‘bet’ with Dodgers fan shows off new Padres edge," 6 July 2019 Houston handed its staff a three-run cushion after three innings, buoyed by solo home runs from Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel along with Josh Reddick's two-run double in the third. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros battle on the road to sweep series against Rockies," 4 July 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.

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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

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for buoy

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

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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).


something desired as essential

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