buffer

1 [buhf-er]
noun
1.
an apparatus at the end of a railroad car, railroad track, etc., for absorbing shock during coupling, collisions, etc.
2.
any device, material, or apparatus used as a shield, cushion, or bumper, especially on machinery.
3.
any intermediate or intervening shield or device reducing the danger of interaction between two machines, chemicals, electronic components, etc.
4.
a person or thing that shields and protects against annoyance, harm, hostile forces, etc., or that lessens the impact of a shock or reversal.
5.
any reserve moneys, negotiable securities, legal procedures, etc., that protect a person, organization, or country against financial ruin.
7.
Ecology. an animal population that becomes the prey of a predator that usually feeds on a different species.
8.
Computers. a storage device for temporarily holding data until the computer is ready to receive or process the data, as when a receiving unit has an operating speed lower than that of the unit feeding data to it.
9.
Electronics. a circuit with a single output activated by one or more of several inputs.
10.
Chemistry.
a.
any substance or mixture of compounds that, added to a solution, is capable of neutralizing both acids and bases without appreciably changing the original acidity or alkalinity of the solution.
b.
Also called buffer solution. a solution containing such a substance.
verb (used with object)
11.
Chemistry. to treat with a buffer.
12.
to cushion, shield, or protect.
13.
to lessen the adverse effect of; ease: The drug buffered his pain.

Origin:
1825–35; buff2 + -er1

unbuffered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged

buffer

2 [buhf-er]
noun
1.
a device for polishing or buffing, as a buff stick or buff wheel.
2.
a worker who uses such a device.

Origin:
1850–55; buff1 + -er1

buffer

3 [buhf-er]
noun British Slang.
1.
a foolish or incompetent person.
2.
a fellow; man.
3.
a chief boatswain's mate in the British navy.

Origin:
1680–90; origin uncertain

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
buffer1 (ˈbʌfə)
 
n
1.  one of a pair of spring-loaded steel pads attached at both ends of railway vehicles and at the end of a railway track to reduce shock due to contact
2.  a person or thing that lessens shock or protects from damaging impact, circumstances, etc
3.  chem
 a.  an ionic compound, usually a salt of a weak acid or base, added to a solution to resist changes in its acidity or alkalinity and thus stabilize its pH
 b.  Also called: buffer solution a solution containing such a compound
4.  computing a memory device for temporarily storing data
5.  electronics an isolating circuit used to minimize the reaction between a driving and a driven circuit
6.  short for buffer state
7.  informal hit the buffers to finish or be stopped, esp unexpectedly
 
vb
8.  to insulate against or protect from shock; cushion
9.  chem to add a buffer to (a solution)
 
[C19: from buff²]

buffer2 (ˈbʌfə)
 
n
1.  any device used to shine, polish, etc; buff
2.  a person who uses such a device

buffer3 (ˈbʌfə)
 
n
informal, offensive (Brit) a stupid or bumbling man (esp in the phrase old buffer)
 
[C18: perhaps from Middle English buffer stammerer]

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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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

buffer
1835, from obsolete verb buff "make a dull sound when struck" (mid-16c.), from O.Fr. buffe "a blow;" hence "something that absorbs a blow."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

buffer buff·er (bŭf'ər)
n.
A substance that minimizes change in the acidity of a solution when an acid or base is added to the solution. v. buff·ered, buff·er·ing, buff·ers
To treat a solution with a buffer.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
buffer   (bŭf'ər)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Chemistry A substance that prevents change in the acidity of a solution when an acid or base is added to the solution or when the solution is diluted. Buffers are used to make solutions of known pH, especially for instrument calibration purposes. Natural buffers also exist in living organisms, where biochemical reactions are very sensitive to changes in pH.

  2. Computer Science A device or an area of a computer that temporarily stores data that is being transferred between two machines that process data at different rates, such as a computer and a printer.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

buffer definition


In chemistry, the components of a solution that can neutralize either an acid or a base and thus maintain a constant pH.

Note: Buffers are often used in medications designed to decrease acidity in the stomach.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The situation could threaten the marine food chain and undercut one of the
  world's natural buffers to global warming.
They see themselves, alternately, as lifesaving buffers or double-sided
  punching bags.
Buffers overflow when a data string is written into memory without its length
  being checked by the program.
They're basically spatial buffers, protecting the city from its own geology.
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