cox·​swain | \ ˈkäk-sən How to pronounce coxswain (audio) , -ˌswān \

Definition of coxswain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sailor who has charge of a ship's boat and its crew and who usually steers
2 : a steersman of a racing shell who usually directs the rowers


coxswained; coxswaining; coxswains

Definition of coxswain (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to direct as coxswain

intransitive verb

: to act as coxswain

Examples of coxswain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Only the coxswain faces the bow and can see the course ahead. Kim O'connell, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 July 2022 The coxswain gives directions of when and how to move the equipment, including the 200-pound boat, and when to board the boat. Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune, 28 June 2022 The Atlantic Coast Conference, for example, permits a third eight-person boat and a second four-person boat, plus a coxswain for each, for up to 37 women. Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY, 26 May 2022 Broadland has hopes of landing a spot as the coxswain of the U.S. National crew. Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Mar. 2022 President Biden’s Trade Policy is not very different from the coxswain’s story. Rick Helfenbein, Forbes, 1 Feb. 2022 Each new summer brings a certain amount of churn, usually with a slightly different crew, a different coach and a different coxswain. Ted Diadiun, cleveland, 19 Mar. 2022 According to tradition, if a race was won, the coxswain would be tossed into the Schuylkill River (an unfathomable outcome). Rick Helfenbein, Forbes, 1 Feb. 2022 Mom, and her husband, were later sentenced to federal prison after the celebrity couple pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy involving payments that resulted in their daughter being admitted to USC as a coxswain despite having no rowing experience. Steve Lopez Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This time around, the eight is composed mostly of Olympic first-timers – Musnicki and coxswain Katelin Guregian are its only members who have been to the Games before. Olivia Reiner, USA TODAY, 24 July 2021 But only coxswain Katelin Guregian and four rowers – Musnicki, Olivia Coffey, Gia Doonan and Kristine O’Brien – were in the 2019 boat and the Tokyo boat. Olivia Reiner, USA TODAY, 30 July 2021 Watching her granddaughter Hannah pitch through a tough inning of softball or her granddaughter Lily coxswain for the rowing team was a marvel. Cecile Richards, Glamour, 11 May 2018 See More

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

First Known Use of coxswain


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1928, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for coxswain


Middle English cokswayne, from cok cockboat (a small boat) + swain servant

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Time Traveler for coxswain

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The first known use of coxswain was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near coxswain



coxwell chair

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Coxswain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for coxswain


cox·​swain | \ ˈkäk-sən How to pronounce coxswain (audio) , -ˌswān \

Kids Definition of coxswain

: the person who steers or directs the rowers of a boat


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