boat·​swain | \ ˈbō-sᵊn How to pronounce boatswain (audio) \
variants: or or less commonly bos'n or bo's'n or bo'sun

Definition of boatswain

1 : a petty officer on a merchant ship having charge of hull maintenance and related work
2 : a naval warrant officer in charge of the hull and all related equipment

Examples of boatswain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One went so far as to swing a grapple at a boatswain's head. Elliot Ackerman, Wired, 26 Jan. 2021 In addition, the ship’s crew included a female third mate, boatswain, and two able-bodied crewmembers. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Sep. 2020 Anthony Gillilan, the boatswain’s mate of the watch, was in charge of both sailors. T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, 20 Dec. 2019 Few personal details have been revealed about the two North Koreans, except that one was the boatswain and the other a deck hand. New York Times, 18 Dec. 2019 He was trained as a boatswain’s mate and served aboard an LST in Africa and the Mediterranean. Jacques Kelly,, 12 Dec. 2019 Russell Dotson was a senior chief boatswain’s mate, serving for more than two decades on active duty and in the reserves. Stephanie Zimmermann, Detroit Free Press, 5 Dec. 2019 The guitar, missing a string, had been sitting unused in the ship’s mess until the boatswain brought it out on deck. Ben Ehrenreich, The New Republic, 17 Oct. 2019 The boatswain's mate of the watch is a petty officer who assists the OOD and ensures all bridge watch stations. Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, 18 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'boatswain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of boatswain

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for boatswain

Middle English bootswein, from boot boat + swein boy, servant — more at swain

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Time Traveler for boatswain

Time Traveler

The first known use of boatswain was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near boatswain



boatswain's chair

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Cite this Entry

“Boatswain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for boatswain



English Language Learners Definition of boatswain

: an officer on a ship whose job is to take care of the main body of the ship and all the ship's equipment


boat·​swain | \ ˈbō-sᵊn How to pronounce boatswain (audio) \

Kids Definition of boatswain

: an officer on a ship whose job is to take care of the main body of the ship and all the ship's equipment

More from Merriam-Webster on boatswain

Nglish: Translation of boatswain for Spanish Speakers


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