buoy

[boo-ee, boi]
noun
1.
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.
2.
verb (used with object)
3.
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.
4.
Nautical. to mark with a buoy or buoys.
5.
to sustain or encourage (often followed by up ): Her courage was buoyed by the doctor's assurances.
verb (used without object)
6.
to float or rise by reason of lightness.

Origin:
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.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
buoy (bɔɪ, US ˈbuːɪ)
 
n
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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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

buoy
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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Example sentences
He suggested hanging buoys, yacht pennants, and old lighthouse lanterns to
  telegraph nautical charm.
The yards aren't cluttered with traps, buoys and other gear, the way they used
  to be.
Governments unwittingly help out by providing data online from wave buoys.
The musicians are terrific, and it always buoys me to see these youngsters
  playing so brilliantly.
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