\ 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

Cables connect a listening station on the ocean floor to the buoy, which will transmit audio frequencies to scientists on shore by satellite. Los Angeles Times, "In the Santa Barbara Channel, an underwater sound system tries to keep whales and ships apart," 16 Aug. 2019 The first station on the course challenged pairs of competitors to jump into the reservoir, swim 25 yards to a buoy and then back to shore. Slade Rand, courant.com, "The Connecticut SWAT Challenge brings police officers and military personnel from across the country to the state," 15 Aug. 2019 Two miles out, the skiers had to go around a large cluster of fishing buoys. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Can you waterski across Lake Michigan? Yep. Two teens skiied 62 miles from Wisconsin to Michigan," 14 Aug. 2019 But on Wednesday water buoys recorded a surface temperature of only around 50 degrees. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brrrr. Lake Michigan's surface temperature is 7 degrees colder than normal for this time of year," 20 June 2019 Crance and her team heard one of the whale songs in real time from the acoustic recorders on buoys. Washington Post, "Scientists record singing by rare right whale for first time," 19 June 2019 For one thing, no one - not whale researchers, not lobster fishermen - can fully explain why right whales are so frequently ensnared in the ropes that connect lobster pots on the seafloor to buoys on the surface. Sarah Kaplan, BostonGlobe.com, "N. Atlantic right whales will be extinct in 25 years, scientists say - unless we act now to save them," 20 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

International sales grew 12% last quarter, buoyed by growth in Asia and Europe. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, "Under Armour is struggling against Nike and Adidas in the United States," 30 July 2019 The crowded field of Democratic candidates vying to take on President Donald Trump reported raising more than $100 million over the past three months – buoyed by the debate, small donors and, at times, the president himself. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Debate bounce? Trump effect? Who is winning the race for 2020 campaign cash," 16 July 2019 The New York Times/Redux As these chefs and others gained a Western following, they were also buoyed by China itself. Suyin Haynes, Time, "Fights Over 'Authentic' Chinese Food Have a Long and Complicated History. Now They're Tearing the Culinary World Apart," 8 July 2019 If Obama’s history-making campaign was buoyed by hope and aspiration, many black voters regard the 2020 election with feelings more akin to resignation and risk aversion. Mark Z. Barabak, latimes.com, "For many black voters, 2020 isn’t about pride or making history. It’s about beating Trump," 6 June 2019 The almost frothy quality of the book’s pacing arises in part, surely, from its conception as a serial: we are buoyed along by episodic comic surprise. Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books, "At the Border of the Novel," 21 Mar. 2019 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

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

19 Aug 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).


of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!