Definition of bulwark in English:



  • 1A defensive wall.

    • ‘After landing virtually unopposed, the Fifth Corps moved toward the San Juan Heights, the principal bulwark in the first of three defensive lines around the city.’
    • ‘Even in wartime, the Israelite army was forbidden to cut down fruit trees, unless they were actually being used as bulwarks in defending against a siege.’
    • ‘Trenches and low walls of earth braced with wooden beams zig-zagged their way across the fields to where Gulf troops laboured at raising bulwarks against rifle fire.’
    • ‘Nearly all the bombers who have killed hundreds of Israelis over the past three years came from the West Bank and Israel says its bulwark of concrete and wire should keep them out.’
    • ‘Israel bills the barrier as its bulwark against infiltrating Palestinian suicide bombers.’
    wall, rampart, fortification, parapet, stockade, palisade, barricade, embankment, earthwork, breastwork, berm
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    1. 1.1 A person, institution, or principle that acts as a defense.
      ‘the security forces are a bulwark against the breakdown of society’
      • ‘Israel calls it a bulwark against suicide bombers spearheading a Palestinian revolt, which is more than 5-years-old.’
      • ‘During the Cold War, the US needed Japan to act as a bulwark in Asia against the spread of communism.’
      • ‘But although the Bill of Rights seemed a bulwark in defense of free speech, the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts revealed its continued vulnerability.’
      • ‘In turn, Kandahar Airfield, the base of operations for southern Afghanistan, is likely to continue transforming from an expeditionary bulwark to a steady-state installation.’
      • ‘Its two corps, four divisions, and two armored cavalry regiments, the bulwark of NATO's Central Army Group, maintained a vigil on the borders of East Germany and Czechoslovakia.’
      • ‘During the Empire its state parliament, whose members were elected on a highly restrictive franchise, developed into a bulwark of conservatism, which frustrated any liberal or social democrat attempts at constitutional reform.’
      • ‘In the Cold War, Western Europe was indispensable as a strategic bulwark for the US.’
      • ‘This was aimed at avoiding the conflicts that had led to two world wars in the first half of the last century while, at the same time, establishing a bulwark in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.’
      • ‘It is not the last outpost of colonialism, but the first bulwark of democracy.’
      • ‘The US supported efforts to unify Western Europe economically and politically, to establish a stable bulwark in the Cold War.’
      • ‘And during these 60 years, our Army maintained its visible bulwark of thousands of troops deployed against the worldwide threat of the Communist powers in Europe and Asia.’
      • ‘And a bold, well-communicated agenda provides a bulwark against politicians offering division rather than solutions.’
      • ‘It seemed to many that the revered Constitution was really the bulwark of powerful economic interests and, therefore, the enemy of more egalitarian and populist policies.’
      • ‘Mainland authorities are banking on consumer spending to provide a bulwark against weaker capital investment and to broaden the economy's base of growth.’
      • ‘From the 1950s, the US supported the Pakistani military as a bulwark in the region, particularly directed against India and its developing alliance with the Soviet Union.’
      • ‘He was a bulwark for life, he was a bulwark for the sanctity of marriage.’
      • ‘If beer, wine and spirits sales are the foundation upon which many food service operations are built, that bulwark is often under siege by employees running their own clandestine operations.’
      • ‘Thus, the army appeared at the time to be not merely a strong bulwark, not merely a political counterweight to the mass populism of the Hitler movement.’
      • ‘Pharmaceutical stocks such as Elan and Galen are usually good defensive bulwarks.’
      • ‘Whatever else, Slater remains dedicated to the idea of a vibrant and effective press as the primary bulwark and defense of our freedoms.’
      • ‘The Soviet Union has been and will continue to be a reliable bulwark in the defense of peace and the security of peoples, and is ready to prove this not in words but in deeds.’
      protector, protection, guard, defence, defender, support, supporter, prop, buttress, mainstay, bastion, safeguard, stronghold
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  • 2usually bulwarksAn extension of a ship's sides above the level of the deck.

    • ‘The Secure-Marine company sells a 9,000-volt electric fence, to be installed on a ship's bulwarks.’
    • ‘An investigation is under way into an incident in January at Hull as the unladen vessel Kemira Gas was making an approach to Saltend jetties and collided with the Sand End Light Float, causing minor damage to the tug's bulwark and the float.’
    • ‘On deck, the Captain noticed a lone figure, leaning against the bulwark of the command ship, completely absorbed by the surrounding scenery.’
    • ‘A nearly 8-inch high bulwark and 28-inch high double lifelines completely surround the deck area.’
    • ‘The captain of the Greek ship turned and stared out over the bulwarks and, shading his eyes, squinted into the sun.’
    • ‘The next section covers Miscellaneous Facilities, such as decks and bulwarks, proper lighting, humidity and condensation control.’
    • ‘There are substantial bulwarks around the side and forward decks for secure footing, and a large foredeck locker, with the anchors stowed on the bowsprit.’
    • ‘The head and the arched tail were both gilt, and the bulwarks were as high as in sea-going ships.’
    • ‘I met with some disaster, lost part of my bulwarks and main top gallant mast but by the blessing of God I was preserved and brought here in safety on the 17th of October…’
    • ‘The bulwarks are high above the deck, the scuppers wide enough to clear the most drenching waves.’
    • ‘Doremi followed along behind, oblivious to anything else, and found herself descending the starboard stairs, following the bulwarks forward, trying to catch up with the gull.’
    • ‘Next, fin along the bulwarks on the starboard side, down to deeper water.’
    • ‘Many of these vessels arrived with loss of bulwarks, boats, and galleys, and in all cases with a greater proportion of sickness and deaths than those not exposed to the fury of the gale.’
    • ‘He threw the dog's twitching body over the bulwarks just as he had done other sailors.’
    • ‘The passengers were all above, grouped about the bulwarks, or looking after their effects amid a wilderness of baggage.’


Late Middle English: from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch bolwerk; related to bole and work.