a long, often cylindrical, cushion or pillow for a bed, sofa, etc.
anything resembling this in form or in use as a support.
any pillow, cushion, or pad.
Also called bolster plate. a circular casting on the side of a vessel, through which an anchor chain passes.
a timber used as a temporary support.
a beam for holding lines or rigging without chafing.
a bag filled with buoyant material, fitted into a small boat.
Metalworking. an anvillike support for the lower die of a drop forge.
a timber or the like connecting two ribs of a centering.
a chisel with a blade splayed toward the edge, used for cutting bricks.
Carpentry. a horizontal timber on a post for lessening the free span of a beam.
a structural member on which one end of a bridge truss rests.
verb (used with object)
to support with or as with a pillow or cushion.
to add to, support, or uphold (sometimes followed by up ): They bolstered their morale by singing. He bolstered up his claim with new evidence.

before 1000; Middle English bolstre (noun), Old English bolster; cognate with Old Norse bolstr, Dutch bolster, German Polster

bolsterer, noun
unbolster, verb (used with object)
unbolstered, adjective

1. See cushion. 10. strengthen, sustain, aid, reinforce, fortify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bolster (ˈbəʊlstə)
1.  (often foll by up) to support or reinforce; strengthen: to bolster morale
2.  to prop up with a pillow or cushion
3.  to add padding to: to bolster a dress
4.  a long narrow pillow or cushion
5.  any pad or padded support
6.  architect a short horizontal length of timber fixed to the top of a post to increase the bearing area and reduce the span of the supported beam
7.  a cold chisel having a broad blade splayed towards the cutting edge, used for cutting stone slabs, etc
[Old English bolster; related to Old Norse bolstr, Old High German bolstar, Dutch bulster]
n, —adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. bolster "bolster, cushion, something stuffed so that it swells up," especially "long, stuffed pillow," from P.Gmc. *bolkhstraz (cf. O.N. bolstr, Dan., Swed., Du. bolster, Ger. polster), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell" (see belly). The verb in the figurative sense is from
c.1500, on the notion of "to support with a bolster, prop up."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Bolster definition

The Hebrew word _kebir_, rendered "pillow" in 1 Sam. 19:13, 16, but in Revised Version marg. "quilt" or "network," probably means some counterpane or veil intended to protect the head of the sleeper. A different Hebrew word (meraashoth') is used for "bolster" (1 Sam. 26:7, 11, 16). It is rightly rendered in Revised Version "at his head." In Gen. 28:11, 18 the Authorized Version renders it "for his pillows," and the Revised Version "under his head." In Ezek. 13:18, 20 another Hebrew word (kesathoth) is used, properly denoting "cushions" or "pillows," as so rendered both in the Authorized and the Revised Version.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
The bookshelves groan with how-to guides for bolstering the powers of the
The last thing academics should be doing is bolstering the credibility of those
  organizations in any way.
They observed that many tongues share grammatical structures and other
  attributes, bolstering the argument that speech is innate.
We also found five nesting sites of green sea turtles, further bolstering the
  island's ecological importance.
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