AskDefine | Define buoy

Dictionary Definition

buoy n : bright-colored; a float attached by rope to the seabed to mark channels in a harbor or underwater hazards


1 float on the surface of water
2 keep afloat; "The life vest buoyed him up" [syn: buoy up]
3 mark with a buoy

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (RP) /bɔi/
  • (US) /ˈbuːi/
  • (RP)
  • (US)


nautical: a moored float


  1. To keep afloat or aloft.
  2. To support or maintain at a high level.
  3. To mark with a buoy.

Extensive Definition

A buoy is a floating device that can have many different purposes, which determine whether the buoy is anchored (stationary) or allowed to drift. The word, of Old French or Middle Dutch origin, is nowadays most commonly (identical with boy, also as in buoyancy), although some orthoepists have traditionally prescribed the pronunciation /ˈbwɔɪ/. The pronunciation /ˈbuːi/, while chiefly American, more closely resembles the modern French bouée .


  • Sea mark - aids pilotage by marking a maritime channel, hazard and administrative area to allow boats and ships to navigate safely.
  • Lifebuoy - used as a life saving buoy designed to be thrown to a person in the water to provide buoyancy. Usually has a connecting line allowing the casualty to be pulled to the rescuer
  • Submarine communication buoys - used for release in case of emergencies or for communication
  • Communication buoy for a bottom pressure sensor, for tsunami detection.
  • DAN buoy - has several meanings:
    • a large maritime navigational aid providing a platform for light and radio beacons
    • a lifebuoy with a flags used on yachts and smaller pleasure craft
    • a temporary marker buoy used during minesweeping to indicate boundaries of swept paths, swept areas, known hazards, and other locations or reference points, or to mark a man overboard position.
  • Sonobuoy - used by anti-submarine warfare aircraft to detect submarines by SONAR
  • Surface Marker Buoy - taken on dives by scuba divers to mark their position underwater
  • Decompression buoy - deployed by submerged scuba divers to mark their position underwater whilst doing decompression stops
  • shot buoy - used to mark dive sites for the boat safety cover of scuba divers so that the divers can descend to the dive site more easily in conditions of low visibility or tidal currents and more safely do decompression stops on their ascent
  • Fairway Buoy is a navigational bouy which marks the entrance to a channel or a nearby landfall
  • Mooring buoys - used to keep one end of a mooring cable or chain on the water's surface so that ships or boats can tie on to it
  • Tripping buoys - used to keep one end of a 'tripping line' on the water's surface so that a stuck anchor can more easily be freed
  • Weather buoys - equipped to measure weather parameters such as air temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction and to report these data via satellite radio links to meteorological centres for use in forecasting and climate study. May be anchored (moored buoys) or allowed to drift (drifting buoys) in the open ocean currents. Position is calculated by the satellite.
  • Tsunami buoys - anchored buoys that can detect sudden changes in undersea water pressure are used as part of tsunami warning systems in the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Indian Oceans.
  • Spar buoy - a tall, thin buoy that floats upright in the water, e.g., R/P FLIP.
  • Profiling buoy - specialized models which adjust buoyancy so that they will sink at a controlled rate to 2,000 metres below the surface while measuring sea temperatures and salinity. After at time, typically 10 days, the buoy returns to the surface, transmits its data via satellite, and then sinks again. See Argo (oceanography).
  • Ice marking buoys - used for marking ice holes in frozen lakes and rivers, so that snowmobiles do not drive over the holes.
  • Marker buoys - used in naval warfare, particularly anti-submarine warfare, is a light-emitting or smoke-emitting, or both, marker using some kind of pyrotechnic to provide the flare and smoke. It is commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) diameter device about 20 inches (500 mm) long that is set off by contact with seawater and floats on the surface. Some markers extinguish after a set period and others are made to sink.
  • Lobster trap buoys - brightly colored buoys used for the marking of lobster trap locations so the person lobster fishing can find their lobster traps. Each lobster fisherman has his or her own color markings or registration numbers so they know which ones are theirs. They are only allowed to haul their own traps and must display their buoy color or license number on their boat so law enforcement officials know what they should be hauling. The buoys are brightly colored with highly visible numbers so they can be seen under conditions when there is poor visiblity like rain, fog, sea smoke, etc.
  • Waverider buoy - used to measure the movement of the water surface as a wave train. The wave train is analysed to determine statistics like the significant wave height and period, and wave direction.
  • Target buoy - used to simulate target (like small boat) in live fire exercise by naval and coastal forces, usually targeted by weapons (medium size) like HMG's, rapid fire cannons (20 or so mm), autocannons (bigger ones up to 40 and 57mm) and also anti-tank rockets.
  • Wreck buoy - a bouy to mark a wrecked ship to warn other ships to keep away because of unseen hazards.

Other uses

  • The word "buoyed" can also be used figuratively. For example, a person could buoy ('lift up') up his partner's spirits by providing help and empathy.
  • George A. Stephen, founder of Weber-Stephen Products Co., invented the kettle grill by cutting a metal buoy in half and fashioning a dome shaped grill with a rounded lid.



External links

buoy in Cebuano: Bouée
buoy in Czech: Bóje
buoy in Danish: Bøje (sømærke)
buoy in German: Boje (Schifffahrt)
buoy in Modern Greek (1453-): Σημαντήρας
buoy in Spanish: Boya
buoy in French: Bouée
buoy in Icelandic: Bauja
buoy in Italian: Boa (nautica)
buoy in Dutch: Betonning
buoy in Norwegian: Bøye
buoy in Polish: Boja
buoy in Portuguese: Bóia
buoy in Russian: Буй
buoy in Simple English: Buoy
buoy in Finnish: Poiju
buoy in Swedish: Boj
buoy in Ukrainian: Буй

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Carling float, Mae West, Roman candle, aid to navigation, alarm, amber light, balefire, balsa, balsa raft, beacon, beacon fire, bear up, bell, bell buoy, blinker, blue peter, bob, boom, breeches buoy, buoy up, caution light, cork, cork jacket, ejection capsule, ejection seat, ejector seat, elevate, flare, float, float high, fog bell, fog signal, fog whistle, foghorn, glance, go light, gong buoy, green light, hearten, heliograph, high sign, hold up, international alphabet flag, international numeral pennant, keep up, kick, leer, life belt, life buoy, life jacket, life net, life preserver, life raft, life ring, life vest, lifeboat, lifeline, lift, lollipop, marker beacon, nod, nudge, parachute, parachute flare, pilot flag, poke, police whistle, pontoon, quarantine flag, radio beacon, raft, raise, red flag, red light, ride high, rocket, rubber dinghy, safety belt, sailing aid, semaphore, semaphore flag, semaphore telegraph, sign, signal, signal beacon, signal bell, signal fire, signal flag, signal gong, signal gun, signal lamp, signal light, signal mast, signal post, signal rocket, signal shot, signal siren, signal tower, siren, spar buoy, stop light, support, surfboard, sustain, the nod, the wink, touch, traffic light, traffic signal, upbear, uphold, uplift, upraise, waft, watch fire, water wings, white flag, wigwag, wigwag flag, wink, yellow flag
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