• WordNet 3.6
    • v bulwark defend with a bulwark
    • n bulwark a protective structure of stone or concrete; extends from shore into the water to prevent a beach from washing away
    • n bulwark a fencelike structure around a deck (usually plural)
    • n bulwark an embankment built around a space for defensive purposes "they stormed the ramparts of the city","they blew the trumpet and the walls came tumbling down"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Nordenfelt-Palmcrantz Gun mounted on Ship's Bulwark Nordenfelt-Palmcrantz Gun mounted on Ship's Bulwark

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Bulwark (Fort) A rampart; a fortification; a bastion or outwork.
    • Bulwark That which secures against an enemy, or defends from attack; any means of defense or protection. "The royal navy of England hath ever been its greatest defense, . . . the floating bulwark of our island."
    • Bulwark (Naut) The sides of a ship above the upper deck, usually a fencelike structure around the deck.
    • v. t Bulwark To fortify with, or as with, a rampart or wall; to secure by fortification; to protect. "Of some proud city, bulwarked round and armed
      With rising towers."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n bulwark Originally, a barrier formed of logs, beams, boards, hurdles, or other materials, for the obstruction of a passage or defense of a place; now, specifically, in fortification, a rampart; a mound of earth carried around a place, capable of resisting cannon-shot, and formed with bastions, curtains, etc.; a fortification.
    • n bulwark Nautical, a close barrier running around a ship or a part of it, above the level of the deck, and consisting of boarding nailed on the outside of the stanchions and timber-heads.
    • n bulwark That which protects or secures against external annoyance or injury of any kind; a screen or shelter; means of protection and safety.
    • n bulwark plural Pads or defenses to protect the limbs against the chafing of armor. Wright. Synonyms See fortification.
    • bulwark To fortify with a bulwark or rampart; secure by a fortification; protect.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Bulwark bool′wark a fortification or rampart: a breakwater or sea-wall: any means of defence or security
    • v.t Bulwark to defend
    • ***


  • Sir William Blackstone
    Sir William Blackstone
    “The Royal Navy of England hath ever been its greatest defense and ornament; it is its ancient and natural strength; the floating bulwark of the island.”
  • Georg C. Lichtenberg
    “With a pen in my hand I have successfully stormed bulwarks from which others armed with sword and excommunication have been repulsed.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Akin to D. bolwerk, G. bollwerk, Sw. bolwerk, Dan. bolvärk, bulvärk, rampart; akin to G. bohle, plank, and werk, work, defense. See Bole stem, and Work (n.), and cf. Boulevard


In literature:

Freydissa, who scorned to receive help from man, had vigorously laid hold of the bulwarks and gradually worked her way aft.
"The Norsemen in the West" by R.M. Ballantyne
I was very anxious, till I saw your head above the bulwarks.
"Held Fast For England" by G. A. Henty
So furious was the wind that he could not show his head over the weather bulwark.
"For Name and Fame" by G. A. Henty
Many feet of bulwarks were crushed level; the pumps had vanished; the caboose was gone!
"The Frozen Pirate" by W. Clark Russell
The rest lay flat on the deck, in the shadow of the bulwarks or weather-boards.
"The Naval History of the United States" by Willis J. Abbot
The mate slumbered peacefully, leaning against the weather topgallant bulwarks.
"The Shellback's Progress" by Walter Runciman
Seeing the danger of our party, I leaped to the bulwarks, and hailing my deliverer in Spanish, bade him desist.
"Captain Canot" by Brantz Mayer
I had crept as far aft as I dared go, for I did not like the look of the sea through the broken bulwark, so I could hear him.
"Old Jack" by W.H.G. Kingston
They had got to a short distance off, when Peter Puddle looked over the bulwarks.
"The Two Shipmates" by William H. G. Kingston
Others followed, but, met with a bristling array of pikes and cutlasses in their faces, they dared not spring from their own bulwarks.
"The Rival Crusoes" by W.H.G. Kingston
I saw a body lifted from the deck and carried over the bulwarks.
"The Two Whalers" by W.H.G. Kingston
I was clinging with others to a part of the bulwarks, when I felt them loosening beneath us.
"Tales of the Sea" by W.H.G. Kingston
The sounds apprised them of these for the bulwarks hid everything from view.
"Gascoyne, the Sandal-Wood Trader" by R.M. Ballantyne
This name was also applied to the space left in the bulwarks for entering or leaving the ship.
"How Britannia Came to Rule the Waves" by W.H.G. Kingston
Get under the lee of the starboard bulwarks, men.
"The Pirate Slaver" by Harry Collingwood
With another bound it cleared the bulwarks, and fell into the sea.
"Freaks on the Fells" by R.M. Ballantyne
She lay so low that Myra, peering into the darkness, could almost see across decks to the farther bulwarks; and the decks were deserted.
"Shining Ferry" by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
The helmsman met her at the wheel, and the Waldo heeled over till the water poured in over her lee bulwarks.
"The Coming Wave" by Oliver Optic
The boat was at length cleared of the bulwarks and swung over the sea; and then the lowering commenced.
"Ran Away to Sea" by Mayne Reid
Yet they formed the only remaining bulwark against Metternich's restrictive policy.
"A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year" by Edwin Emerson

In poetry:

A song of strength and a song of speed,
Of the dream made true and the word made deed,
In bow and bulwark and ribs and keel
An epic in iron, an ode in steel.
"The Builders" by Cicely Fox Smith
Her couch is in the ancestral tomb
With Putnam's honor'd dust,
The true in word, the bold in deed,
A bulwark in his Country's need,
A tower of strength and trust.
"Miss Elizabeth Brinley," by Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney
Just in the nick of time here
The wideawake skipper gripped my foot,
And pulled me back from the bulwark,
And cried, maliciously laughing:
'Devil come for you. Doctor?'
"The North Sea -- First Cycle" by Heinrich Heine
Bulwark of England, God-given Liberty!
Name much malign'd, yet noble and glorious,
How rarely the masses who claim thee
Judge as they ought of the fools that maim thee!
"Freedom (In Alcaics.)" by Martin Farquhar Tupper
For Maurice in vain o'er the bulwark leant forth,
While Rupert to rescue was crying;
And the voice of farewell on his face is flung back
With the scud on the billow-top flying!
"The Wreck Of The Admiral" by Francis Turner Palgrave
We swarmed up sides and bulwarks and gave them blow for blow,
And all night long we fought, my boys, 'mid the dying and the dead,
Till our young Captain's broadsword had laid their leader low,
And at the masthead floated St. Georges Cross of red.
"How We Took The Great Galleon" by Cicely Fox Smith

In news:

God's word a bulwark in ever-changing world.
The way chief executive R. David Yost sees it, AmerisourceBergen Corp.'s Good Neighbor Pharmacy program is a bulwark for independent pharmacists against the pressures of a brutally competitive pharmacy market and an unforgiving economy.
Those of you who have filled out a Form 4473 since July 9th may have noticed a change in our beloved paper bulwark against crime and poor behavior.
Rawkus Records, which built a niche nurturing rap acts with small, loyal followings like Company Flow and Sir Menelik, is supposed to be a bulwark against the materially obsessed, dumbed-down styles that rule radio.
Agriculture will continue on 60% of the land, shutting out the public but providing a bulwark.
Over the ages, some great thinkers have considered it one of the bulwarks of human society.
Distrustful of government and riven by differences, metro Atlanta voters on Tuesday rejected a $7.2 billion transportation plan that business leaders have called an essential bulwark against regional decline.
A few individuals have proven to be bulwarks of liberty, unpopular for their contrarian ideas, but necessary in holding the American people to the cherished values of the American Revolution.
Church as bulwark against the disorders afflicting the age.
And so the Shorts , Americans and settlers, suddenly became a menace to the claims of England and a bulwark to the claims of the United States.
Speed of climate change makes glasshouses bulwarks in the battle to preserve biodiversity.