From Middle English, from Middle Dutch bolwerk, bolwerc and Middle Low German bolwerk, equivalent to bole (“tree trunk”) + work. Cognate with German Bollwerk, Danish bolværk, Dutch bolwerk. Doublet of boulevard (from French boulevard, from Dutch); cognate with Portuguese and Spanish baluarte and Italian baluardo.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbʊl.wək/
- (US) enPR: bo͝ol'wərk, bo͝ol'wôrk, IPA(key): /ˈbʊl.wɝk/, /ˈbʊl.wɔɹk/
Audio (US) (file)
bulwark (plural bulwarks)
- A defensive wall or rampart.
- A defense or safeguard.
- The royal navy of England hath ever been its greatest defence, […] the floating bulwark of our island.
- A breakwater.
- (nautical) The planking or plating along the sides of a nautical vessel above her gunwale that reduces the likelihood of seas washing over the gunwales and people being washed overboard.
- (figuratively) Any means of defence or security.