[boo-ee, boi]


Nautical. a distinctively shaped and marked float, sometimes carrying a signal or signals, anchored to mark a channel, anchorage, navigational hazard, etc., or to provide a mooring place away from the shore.

verb (used with object)

to keep afloat or support by or as if by a life buoy; keep from sinking (often followed by up): The life jacket buoyed her up until help arrived.
Nautical. to mark with a buoy or buoys.
to sustain or encourage (often followed by up): Her courage was buoyed by the doctor's assurances.

verb (used without object)

to float or rise by reason of lightness.

Nearby words

  1. buonaparte,
  2. buonarroti,
  3. buonarroti, michelangelo,
  4. buoninsegna, duccio di,
  5. buononcini,
  6. buoy boat,
  7. buoyage,
  8. buoyance,
  9. buoyancy,
  10. buoyancy bags

Origin of buoy

1425–75; late Middle English boye a float < Middle French *boie, boue(e) < Germanic; akin to beacon

Related formsun·buoyed, adjective

Can be confusedboy buoy

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for buoy

British Dictionary definitions for buoy



a distinctively shaped and coloured float, anchored to the bottom, for designating moorings, navigable channels, or obstructions in a body of waterSee also life buoy


(tr usually foll by up) to prevent from sinkingthe belt buoyed him up
(tr usually foll by up) to raise the spirits of; hearten
(tr) nautical to mark (a channel or obstruction) with a buoy or buoys
(intr) to rise to the surface

Word Origin for buoy

C13: probably of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch boeie, boeye; see beacon

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 buoy
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper