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

  • n. A float moored in water to mark a location, warn of danger, or indicate a navigational channel.
  • n. A life buoy.
  • transitive v. To keep afloat or aloft: a glider buoyed by air currents.
  • transitive v. To maintain at a high level; support: "the persistent ... takeover speculation, which has buoyed up the shares of banks” ( Financial Times).
  • transitive v. To hearten or inspire; uplift: "buoyed up by the team spirit and the pride of the older generation back at home” ( Judith Martin).
  • transitive v. To mark with or as if with a buoy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • intransitive v. To float; to rise like a buoy.
  • transitive v. To keep from sinking in a fluid, as in water or air; to keep afloat; -- with up.
  • transitive v. To support or sustain; to preserve from sinking into ruin or despondency.
  • transitive v. To fix buoys to; to mark by a buoy or by buoys.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. 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
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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


Middle English boie, from Old French boue, probably of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)



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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