See more synonyms for buckle on Thesaurus.com
  1. a clasp consisting of a rectangular or curved rim with one or more movable tongues, fixed to one end of a belt or strap, used for fastening to the other end of the same strap or to another strap.
  2. any similar contrivance used for such purposes.
  3. an ornament of metal, beads, etc., of similar appearance.
  4. a bend, bulge, or kink, as in a board or saw blade.
verb (used with object), buck·led, buck·ling.
  1. to fasten with a buckle or buckles: Buckle your seat belt.
  2. to shrivel, by applying heat or pressure; bend; curl.
  3. to prepare (oneself) for action; apply (oneself) vigorously to something.
  4. to bend, warp, or cause to give way suddenly, as with heat or pressure.
verb (used without object), buck·led, buck·ling.
  1. to close or fasten with a buckle: Grandmother always wore shoes that buckled.
  2. to prepare oneself or apply oneself: The student buckled to the lesson.
  3. to bend, warp, bulge, or collapse: The bridge buckled in the storm.
  4. to yield, surrender, or give way to another (often followed by under): She refused to take the medicine, but buckled under when the doctor told her to.
Verb Phrases
  1. buckle down, to set to work with vigor; concentrate on one's work: He was by nature a daydreamer and found it hard to buckle down.
  2. buckle up, to fasten one's belt, seat belt, or buckles: She won't start the car until we've all buckled up.

Origin of buckle

1300–50; Middle English bocle < Anglo-French bo(u)cle, bucle < Latin buc(c)ula cheekpiece (of a helmet), strip of wood, etc., resembling a cheekpiece, equivalent to bucc(a) cheek + -ula -ule
Related formsbuck·le·less, adjectivere·buck·le, verb, re·buck·led, re·buck·ling.

Synonyms for buckle

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for buckling

twist, fold, bend, crumple, bulge, collapse, distort, yield

Examples from the Web for buckling

Contemporary Examples of buckling

  • Some days, she felt as though glaciers were buckling around her and a crevasse yawned beneath her.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Breaking Mount Everest’s Glass Ceiling

    Amanda Padoan, Peter Zuckerman

    March 30, 2014

  • As the war in Syria enters its third year, aid groups are buckling under the mounting need for food and medicine.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Syria’s Israeli Guardian Angel

    Itay Hod

    January 31, 2014

  • Even though PLO diplomats have a history of buckling under pressure at the UN, they are less likely to back down now.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The PA's Pitiable Strategy

    George Hale

    July 12, 2012

  • Buckling down to tie-up loose ends is key to lightening your mental load.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Stars Predict Your Week

    Starsky + Cox

    October 9, 2011

  • And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Obama's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

    Barack Obama

    December 10, 2009

Historical Examples of buckling

  • He could see them buckling on belts while they were riding with the reins in their teeth.

  • He patted the Thor gun which the instructor was buckling to his waist.

    Be It Ever Thus

    Robert Moore Williams

  • He completed his toilet by buckling on his belt and revolver.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Stan was so chilled he had to hang on to the arm of the sailor to keep his knees from buckling.

  • This causes expansion and consequent distortion and buckling.

British Dictionary definitions for buckling


  1. another name for a bloater

Word Origin for buckling

C20: from German Bückling


  1. a clasp for fastening together two loose ends, esp of a belt or strap, usually consisting of a frame with an attached movable prong
  2. an ornamental representation of a buckle, as on a shoe
  3. a kink, bulge, or other distortiona buckle in a railway track
  1. to fasten or be fastened with a buckle
  2. to bend or cause to bend out of shape, esp as a result of pressure or heat

Word Origin for buckle

C14: from Old French bocle, from Latin buccula a little cheek, hence, cheek strap of a helmet, from bucca cheek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for buckling



"spiked metal ring for holding a belt, etc., c.1300, bukel, from Old French bocle "boss (of a shield)," then "shield," then by further extension "buckle, metal ring," (12c., Modern French boucle), from Latin buccula "cheek strap of a helmet," in Late Latin "boss of a shield," diminutive of bucca "cheek" (see bouche).

Boucle in the middle ages had the double sense of a "shield's boss" and "a ring"; the last sense has alone survived, and it metaph. developed in the boucle de cheveux, ringlets. [Kitchin]



"distort, warp, bend out of shape" 1520s, bokelen "to arch the body," from Middle French boucler "to bulge," from Old French bocler "to bulge," from bocle "boss of a shield" (see buckle (n.)). Meaning "bend under strong pressure" is from 1590s (figurative from 1640s) . Related: Buckled; buckling.



late 14c., bokelen, "to fasten with a buckle," from buckle (n.). Related: Buckled; buckling. To buckle down "apply effort, settle down," (1874) is said to be a variant of knuckle down (see knuckle).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper