[bool-werk, -wawrk, buhl-]
a wall of earth or other material built for defense; rampart.
any protection against external danger, injury, or annoyance: The new dam was a bulwark against future floods.
any person or thing giving strong support or encouragement in time of need, danger, or doubt: Religion was his bulwark.
Usually, bulwarks. Nautical. a solid wall enclosing the perimeter of a weather or main deck for the protection of persons or objects on deck.
verb (used with object)
to fortify or protect with a bulwark; secure by or as if by a fortification.

1375–1425; late Middle English bulwerk, probably < Middle Dutch bolwerc, equivalent to bol(l)e bole1 + werk work (noun); cf. boulevard

3. support, buttress, mainstay.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bulwark (ˈbʊlwək)
1.  a wall or similar structure used as a fortification; rampart
2.  a person or thing acting as a defence against injury, annoyance, etc
3.  (often plural) nautical a solid vertical fencelike structure along the outward sides of a deck
4.  a breakwater or mole
5.  (tr) to defend or fortify with or as if with a bulwark
[C15: via Dutch from Middle High German bolwerk, from bol plank, bole1 + werkwork]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 15c., from M.Du. bulwerke or M.H.G. bolwerc, from bole "plank, tree trunk" (from P.Gmc. *bul-, from PIE base *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell;" see bole) + werc "work." Figurative sense is from 1570s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It's our first and maybe our most important bulwark against disease.
Journalism is supposed to be yet another, a critical bulwark in the chain of
Most important, the rainforest is also a bulwark against global warming.
It sounds like a sitcom, but until last week it was emotional truth without
  legal bulwark.
Images for bulwark
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