Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A long narrow pillow or cushion.
  • transitive v. To support or prop up with or as if with a long narrow pillow or cushion.
  • transitive v. To buoy up or hearten: Visitors bolstered the patient's morale.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large cushion or pillow.
  • n. 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).
  • v. To brace, reinforce, secure, or support.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A long pillow or cushion, used to support the head of a person lying on a bed; -- generally laid under the pillows.
  • n. A pad, quilt, or anything used to hinder pressure, support any part of the body, or make a bandage sit easy upon a wounded part; a compress.
  • n. Anything arranged to act as a support, as in various forms of mechanism, etc.
  • n. A cushioned or a piece part of a saddle.
  • n.
  • n. A cushioned or a piece of soft wood covered with tarred canvas, placed on the trestletrees and against the mast, for the collars of the shrouds to rest on, to prevent chafing.
  • n. Anything used to prevent chafing.
  • n. A plate of iron or a mass of wood under the end of a bridge girder, to keep the girder from resting directly on the abutment.
  • n. A transverse bar above the axle of a wagon, on which the bed or body rests.
  • n. The crossbeam forming the bearing piece of the body of a railway car; the central and principal cross beam of a car truck.
  • n. the perforated plate in a punching machine on which anything rests when being punched.
  • n.
  • n. That part of a knife blade which abuts upon the end of the handle.
  • n. The metallic end of a pocketknife handle.
  • n. The rolls forming the ends or sides of the Ionic capital.
  • n. A block of wood on the carriage of a siege gun, upon which the breech of the gun rests when arranged for transportation.
  • transitive v. To support with a bolster or pillow.
  • transitive v. To support, hold up, or maintain with difficulty or unusual effort; -- often with up.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Something on which to rest the head while reclining; specifically, a long cylindrical cushion stuffed with feathers, hair, straw, or other materials, and generally laid under the pillows.
  • n. Something resembling a bolster in form or use.
  • n. A pad or quilt used to prevent pressure, support any part of the body, or make a bandage sit easy upon a wounded part; a compress.
  • n. A cushioned or padded part of a saddle.
  • n. Naut., pl., pieces of soft wood covered with tarred canvas, placed under the eyes of the rigging to prevent chafing from the sharp edge of the trestletrees.
  • n. A part of a bridge intervening between the truss and the masonry.
  • n. In cutlery, the part of such instruments and tools as knives, chisels, etc., which adjoins the end of the handle; also, a metallic plate on the end of a pocket-knife handle.
  • n. In gunnery, a block of wood on the carriage of a siege-gun, upon which the breech of the gun rests when it is moved.
  • n. In architecture, same as baluster, 2.
  • n. In music, the raised ridge which holds the tuning-pins of a piano.
  • n. A cap-piece or short timber placed at the top of a post as a bearing for a string-piece.
  • n. A perforated wooden block upon which sheet-metal is placed to be punched.
  • n. A sleeve-bearing through which a spindle passes.
  • n. In stone-sawing, one of the loose wooden blocks against which the ends of the pole of the saw rest.
  • n. A bar placed transversely over the axle of a wagon or in the middle of a car-truck to support the body.
  • n. One of the transverse pieces of an archcentering, extending between the ribs and sustaining the voussoirs during construction.
  • To support with a bolster.
  • To prop; support; uphold; maintain: generally implying support of a weak, falling, or unworthy cause or object, or support based on insufficient grounds: now usually with up: as, to bolster up his pretensions with lies.
  • To furnish with a bolster in dress; pad; stuff out with padding.
  • n.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. support and strengthen
  • v. prop up with a pillow or bolster
  • v. add padding to
  • n. a pillow that is often put across a bed underneath the regular pillows

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bolstre, from Old English bolster ("bolster, cushion"), from Proto-Germanic *bulstraz, *bulstran (“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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Also, BBC America will bolster is Science Fiction and Fantasy offerings this Summer as it adds the supernatural Being Human and the post-apocalyptic Survivors to its schedule which already includes such genre imports as Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Primeval.

    May « 2009 « Axiom's Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Rather than acting as simply a short-term bolster of the sugar industry, it became a full-fledged energy program.

    Spero News

  • The _Toolmaker, _ who, as a rule, both makes and sets the tools, has placed in what is known as a bolster a die, having a hole perforated through it of the exact shape of the blank to be cut; and attached to the bottom of the screwed bolt of the press is a punch, also bearing the exact shape of the blank.

    The Story of the Invention of Steel Pens With a Description of the Manufacturing Process by Which They Are Produced

  • Another boy, aged about fourteen, who had been seduced by a servant-girl, embraced the bolster; the pleasurable sensations, according to his statement, were heightened by imagining that the bolster was a woman.

    Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 1 The Evolution of Modesty; The Phenomena of Sexual Periodicity; Auto-Erotism

  • On the bolster was a little box, at the sight of which I burst out laughing.

    A Confederate Girl's Diary

  • As part of its sustainability efforts, Ford is making the material inside the all-new Escape's door - known as the bolster - in part from kenaf.

  • Because Bennett's blades are custom made, he also has to buy brass and custom fit each knife with a bolster, which is a narrow band between the handle and blade that keeps a hand from sliding onto the blade.

    The Record-Courier - Top Stories

  • I went to Uganda actually to see that the European Union is training about 2,000 Somalis to kind of bolster this national army.

    The Battle For The Soul Of Somalia Continues

  • According to a certain sort of conventional wisdom, the IAEA report will "bolster" the Obama Administration's case for sanctions at the U.N. To us, this is merely the latest indictment of years of diplomatic half-measures by the U.S. and Europe that has provided Iran with the cover to press ahead with its illicit program without fear of grave repercussions.

    Iran's Nuclear Progress

  • So they're aware of that in the Clinton camp, that both of those arguments -- the pledged delegates and the popular vote -- she's going to have to be able to show something in order to kind of bolster her case, as well I can win in the big states, which is what her argument is now.

    CNN Transcript Apr 22, 2008

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