Middle High German, cognate with German Bollwerk, Danish bolværk, Dutch bolwerk. The first part is akin to bole (“trunk of a tree”). Cognates include boulevard (from French boulevard, from Dutch), Spanish baluarte and Italian baluardo.
bulwark (plural bulwarks)
- A defensive wall or rampart.
- A defense or safeguard.
- The royal navy of England hath ever been its greatest defence, […] the floating bulwark of our island.
- A breakwater.
- (nautical) The planking or plating along the sides of a nautical vessel above her gunwale that reduces the likelihood of seas washing over the gunwales and people being washed overboard.