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Buffer vs. buffet

To buffet is (1) to hit or beat repeatedly, or (2) to beat back. The participial adjective buffeted is often used figuratively to describe something that is embattled or facing many adverse forces. To buffer is (1) to lessen or absorb the shock of an impact, or (2) to act as an intermediary or a moderating force between two or more opposed things.

Examples


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Stocks were buffered from deeper losses by decent weekly jobs data in the U.S. and results from retailers. [MarketWatch]

Large amounts of heavy wet snow are expected to fall on leaf-laden tree branches buffeted by high winds, causing them to topple onto power lines and trigger power outages. [Youngstown Vindicator]

In 2009, 21 percent of all children, or 15.5 million, lived in poverty. … And that’s including the buffering effect of food stamps. [NPR’s The Salt blog]

And the satirical buffeting he has received from the opposition in the streets and on the internet is not likely to awaken the flawless democrat in him. [Open Democracy]

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Comments

  1. A third meaning of “to buffer” is to hold the output of one process until another process is ready to take it as input. This sense is most common in computer science, but I think it can be used more generally. I suppose you could subsume this into meaning (2) above if you allowed the two things that the buffer intermediated to be co-operating rather than opposed to each other.

    When I first saw the heading “buffer vs. buffet”, I read both words as nouns, and wondered how on earth anyone could confuse a device for preventing railway carriages banging against each other with a display of help-yourself food.

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