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A bolster on a bed.


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English bolstre, from Old English bolster (bolster, cushion), from Proto-Germanic *bulstraz, *bulstrą (bolster), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (bag, pillow, paunch), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (to swell, blow, inflate, burst). Cognate with Scots bowster (bolster), West Frisian bulster (mattress), Dutch bolster (husk, shell), German Polster (bolster, pillow, pad), Swedish bolster (soft mattress, bolster), Icelandic bólstur (pillow).


Bolster or pillow (structural) ( - 325191)

bolster (plural bolsters)

  1. A large cushion or pillow.
  2. A pad, quilt, or anything used to hinder pressure, support part of the body, or make a bandage sit easy upon a wounded part; a compress.
    • John Gay
      This arm shall be a bolster for thy head.
  3. (vehicles, agriculture) A small spacer located on top of the axle of horse-drawn wagons which give the front wheels enough clearance to turn.
  4. A short, horizontal, structural timber between a post and a beam for enlarging the bearing area of the post and/or reducing the span of the beam. Sometimes also called a pillow or cross-head (Australian English).
  5. The perforated plate in a punching machine on which anything rests when being punched.
  6. The part of a knife blade that abuts upon the end of the handle.
  7. The metallic end of a pocketknife handle.
  8. (architecture) The rolls forming the ends or sides of the Ionic capital.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of G. Francis to this entry?)
  9. (military, historical) A block of wood on the carriage of a siege gun, upon which the breech of the gun rests when arranged for transportation.




bolster (third-person singular simple present bolsters, present participle bolstering, simple past and past participle bolstered)

  1. To brace, reinforce, secure, or support.





From Old Norse bólstr, bulstr, from Proto-Germanic *bulstraz. Compare Icelandic bólstur, Dutch bolster, German Polster, English bolster.


bolster n

  1. a bolster, a large cushion or pillow