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 Anthony Gillilan, the boatswain’s mate of the watch, was in charge of both sailors. T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, "The Navy installed touch-screen steering systems to save money.," 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, "2 North Koreans Tried to Defect. Did Seoul Send Them to Their Deaths?," 18 Dec. 2019 He was trained as a boatswain’s mate and served aboard an LST in Africa and the Mediterranean. Jacques Kelly,, "Michael A. Manning, retired president of his family’s hominy canning business, dies," 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, "Michigan woman has $20,000 in student debt. Why Congress members want it erased," 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, "Inside the effort to rescue Europe’s unwelcome immigrants," 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, "How do Navy ships operate?," 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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Cite this Entry

“Boatswain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for boatswain


How to pronounce boatswain (audio)

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

: a warrant officer on a warship or a petty officer on a commercial ship who has charge of the hull, anchors, boats, and rigging

More from Merriam-Webster on boatswain

Spanish Central: Translation of boatswain

Nglish: Translation of boatswain for Spanish Speakers

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