[boo-ee, boi]
Nautical. a distinctively shaped and marked float, sometimes carrying a signal or signals, anchored to mark a channel, anchorage, navigational hazard, etc., or to provide a mooring place away from the shore.
verb (used with object)
to keep afloat or support by or as if by a life buoy; keep from sinking (often followed by up ): The life jacket buoyed her up until help arrived.
Nautical. to mark with a buoy or buoys.
to sustain or encourage (often followed by up ): Her courage was buoyed by the doctor's assurances.
verb (used without object)
to float or rise by reason of lightness.

1425–75; late Middle English boye a float < Middle French *boie, boue(e) < Germanic; akin to beacon

unbuoyed, adjective

boy, buoy.

5. lift, uplift, boost, lighten; maintain, nurture.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
buoy (bɔɪ, US ˈbuːɪ)
1.  See also life buoy a distinctively shaped and coloured float, anchored to the bottom, for designating moorings, navigable channels, or obstructions in a body of water
vb (usually foll by up) (usually foll by up)
2.  to prevent from sinking: the belt buoyed him up
3.  to raise the spirits of; hearten
4.  (tr) nautical to mark (a channel or obstruction) with a buoy or buoys
5.  (intr) to rise to the surface
[C13: probably of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch boeie, boeye; see beacon]

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

late 13c., perhaps from either O.Fr. buie or M.Du. boeye, both from W.Gmc. *baukn "beacon" (cf. O.H.G. bouhhan, O.Fris. baken). OED, however, supports M.Du. boeie, or O.Fr. boie "fetter, chain" (see boy), "because of its being fettered to a spot." The verb meaning "to mark with
a buoy" is from late 16c., from the noun; in the figurative sense (of spirits, etc.) it is recorded from 1640s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


floating object anchored at a definite location to guide or warn mariners, to mark positions of submerged objects, or to moor vessels in lieu of anchoring. Two international buoyage systems are used to mark channels and submerged dangers. In both systems, buoys of standardized colours and shapes indicate safe passageways. Special-purpose buoys are designed for a variety of uses; they include cable buoys, anchor buoys, or race buoys. A mooring buoy differs from other types in not being an aid to navigation but a point to which vessels may be tied up. Secured to a permanent group of anchors by a heavy chain, such a buoy serves as a connecting link between the vessel and the anchors. The use of mooring buoys conserves space in crowded harbours because a moored vessel requires less room to swing with the wind and tide than does a vessel at anchor

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
It tilts sideways on the harbor bed, attached by its stemlike shank to a chain,
  and then to a buoy at the surface of the water.
Whatever else happened, the milestone of completing the doctorate would buoy my
To buoy house prices the package includes a rescue plan for distressed
  mortgages more generous than anything previously mooted.
The buoy system was designed primarily to prevent collisions, but it has the
  potential to deliver a scientific windfall.
Images for buoy
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