from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A float moored in water to mark a location, warn of danger, or indicate a navigational channel.
  • noun A life buoy.
  • transitive verb To keep afloat or aloft.
  • transitive verb To maintain at a high level; support.
  • transitive verb To hearten or inspire; uplift.
  • transitive verb To mark with or as if with a buoy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To support by a buoy or as by a buoy; keep afloat in a fluid; bear up or keep from sinking in a fluid, as in water or air: generally with up.
  • Figuratively, to support or sustain in any sense; especially, to sustain mentally; keep from falling into despondency or discouragement: generally with up.
  • To fix buoys in as a direction to mariners: as, to buoy or to buoy off a channel.
  • To float; rise by reason of lightness.
  • noun A float fixed at a certain place to show the position of objects beneath the water, as shoals, rocks, etc., to mark out a channel, and the like
  • noun A buoyant object designed to be thrown from a vessel to assist a person who has fallen into the water to keep himself afloat; a life-buoy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Naut.) A float; esp. a floating object moored to the bottom, to mark a channel or to point out the position of something beneath the water, as an anchor, shoal, rock, etc.
  • noun a buoy attached to, or marking the position of, an anchor.
  • noun a large buoy on which a bell is mounted, to be rung by the motion of the waves.
  • noun See under Breeches.
  • noun an empty cask employed to buoy up the cable in rocky anchorage.
  • noun a hollow buoy made of sheet or boiler iron, usually conical or pear-shaped.
  • noun a float intended to support persons who have fallen into the water, until a boat can be dispatched to save them.
  • noun a buoy large in the middle, and tapering nearly to a point at each end.
  • noun to let the anchor buoy fall by the ship's side into the water, before letting go the anchor.
  • noun a buoy fitted with a whistle that is blown by the action of the waves.
  • transitive verb To keep from sinking in a fluid, as in water or air; to keep afloat; -- with up.
  • transitive verb To support or sustain; to preserve from sinking into ruin or despondency.
  • transitive verb To fix buoys to; to mark by a buoy or by buoys.
  • intransitive verb To float; to rise like a buoy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun nautical A float moored in water to mark a location, warn of danger, or indicate a navigational channel.
  • noun A life-buoy.
  • verb transitive To keep afloat or aloft.
  • verb transitive To support or maintain at a high level.
  • verb transitive To mark with a buoy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun bright-colored; a float attached by rope to the seabed to mark channels in a harbor or underwater hazards
  • verb float on the surface of water
  • verb keep afloat
  • verb mark with a buoy


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English boie, from Old French boue, probably of Germanic origin; see bhā- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English buoy, boye ("a float"), from Middle Dutch boeye ("a float, signal") or Middle French bouee, boue ("a float, marker, buoy"; < Middle Dutch), from Old Dutch *bōkan, *boukan (“signal, beacon”), from Old Frankish *boukan, *baukan (“signal, beacon”), from Proto-Germanic *bauknan (“sign, signal, portent”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰā- (“to glow, light, shine”). More at beacon.


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  • His father would beg, his mother implore,

    'Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,

    We really do wish you would shut the door!'

    Their hands they wrung, their hair they tore;

    But Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore

    Was deaf as the buoy out at the Nore.

    - William Brighty Rands, 'Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore'.

    November 30, 2008