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

  • n. A long narrow pillow or cushion.
  • transitive v. To support or prop up with or as if with a long narrow pillow or cushion.
  • transitive v. To buoy up or hearten: Visitors bolstered the patient's morale.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large cushion or pillow.
  • n. A short, horizontal, structural timber between a post and a beam for enlarging the bearing area of the post and/or reducing the span of the beam. Sometimes also called a pillow or cross-head (Australian English).
  • v. To brace, reinforce, secure, or support.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A long pillow or cushion, used to support the head of a person lying on a bed; -- generally laid under the pillows.
  • n. A pad, quilt, or anything used to hinder pressure, support any part of the body, or make a bandage sit easy upon a wounded part; a compress.
  • n. Anything arranged to act as a support, as in various forms of mechanism, etc.
  • n. A cushioned or a piece part of a saddle.
  • n.
  • n. A cushioned or a piece of soft wood covered with tarred canvas, placed on the trestletrees and against the mast, for the collars of the shrouds to rest on, to prevent chafing.
  • n. Anything used to prevent chafing.
  • n. A plate of iron or a mass of wood under the end of a bridge girder, to keep the girder from resting directly on the abutment.
  • n. A transverse bar above the axle of a wagon, on which the bed or body rests.
  • n. The crossbeam forming the bearing piece of the body of a railway car; the central and principal cross beam of a car truck.
  • n. the perforated plate in a punching machine on which anything rests when being punched.
  • n.
  • n. That part of a knife blade which abuts upon the end of the handle.
  • n. The metallic end of a pocketknife handle.
  • n. The rolls forming the ends or sides of the Ionic capital.
  • n. A block of wood on the carriage of a siege gun, upon which the breech of the gun rests when arranged for transportation.
  • transitive v. To support with a bolster or pillow.
  • transitive v. To support, hold up, or maintain with difficulty or unusual effort; -- often with up.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To support with a bolster.
  • To prop; support; uphold; maintain: generally implying support of a weak, falling, or unworthy cause or object, or support based on insufficient grounds: now usually with up: as, to bolster up his pretensions with lies.
  • To furnish with a bolster in dress; pad; stuff out with padding.
  • n. Something on which to rest the head while reclining; specifically, a long cylindrical cushion stuffed with feathers, hair, straw, or other materials, and generally laid under the pillows.
  • n. Something resembling a bolster in form or use.
  • n. A pad or quilt used to prevent pressure, support any part of the body, or make a bandage sit easy upon a wounded part; a compress.
  • n. A cushioned or padded part of a saddle.
  • n. Naut., pl., pieces of soft wood covered with tarred canvas, placed under the eyes of the rigging to prevent chafing from the sharp edge of the trestletrees.
  • n. A part of a bridge intervening between the truss and the masonry.
  • n. In cutlery, the part of such instruments and tools as knives, chisels, etc., which adjoins the end of the handle; also, a metallic plate on the end of a pocket-knife handle.
  • n. In gunnery, a block of wood on the carriage of a siege-gun, upon which the breech of the gun rests when it is moved.
  • n. In architecture, same as baluster, 2.
  • n. In music, the raised ridge which holds the tuning-pins of a piano.
  • n. A cap-piece or short timber placed at the top of a post as a bearing for a string-piece.
  • n. A perforated wooden block upon which sheet-metal is placed to be punched.
  • n. A sleeve-bearing through which a spindle passes.
  • n. In stone-sawing, one of the loose wooden blocks against which the ends of the pole of the saw rest.
  • n. A bar placed transversely over the axle of a wagon or in the middle of a car-truck to support the body.
  • n. One of the transverse pieces of an archcentering, extending between the ribs and sustaining the voussoirs during construction.
  • n.

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

  • v. support and strengthen
  • v. prop up with a pillow or bolster
  • v. add padding to
  • n. a pillow that is often put across a bed underneath the regular pillows


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

Middle English, from Old English.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English bolstre, from Old English bolster ("bolster, cushion"), from Proto-Germanic *bulstraz, *bulstran (“bolster”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (“bag, pillow, paunch”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (“to swell, blow, inflate, burst”). Cognate with Scots bowster ("bolster"), West Frisian bulster ("mattress"), Dutch bolster ("husk, shell"), German Polster ("bolster, pillow, pad"), Swedish bolster ("soft mattress, bolster"), Icelandic bólstur ("pillow").


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