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 But there’s not exactly a coxswain setting the pace for the team wearing blue jerseys. Philip Elliott, Time, "Clash Coming: Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell Are Preparing for a Spending Standoff," 4 May 2021 The lack of impulse control to photoshop your picture as a coxswain for crew is beyond comprehension. New York Times, "Ziwe Endorses Box Braids and ‘Real Housewives’," 27 Apr. 2021 Caiti Levin first served as a men’s rowing coxswain in high school at the Saugatuck Rowing & Fitness Club in Connecticut. USA Today, "'It’s a sad season': How athletes, coaches are coping with collegiate programs being cut," 11 Apr. 2021 Brendan Jacob served as the stroke seat, and Gracie Rullo was the coxswain. Andrew Turner,, "Orange Coast College crew wins two titles in ACRA national championships," 5 June 2019 The résumé also lists years of coxswain experience, including multiple bronze, silver and gold medals won in various competitions. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "'Highly talented': Fake rowing résumé allegedly touts Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade," 10 Feb. 2020 Lopez, who at 5 feet tall is much shorter than the typical rower, is a coxswain and wants to remain one in college. New York Times, "She Wants to Row to Get From N.Y.C. Into College," 25 Nov. 2019 Though neither is a rower, the parents saw being a coxswain as their daughters’ ticket into the private college, which has an acceptance rate of 13%, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, "Lori Loughlin faces moment of truth in college admissions scandal as daughters exit USC," 22 Oct. 2019 The women, who’d won the world bronze medal, let the coxswains draw up the lineup, then tossed a coin to decide which boat would get the No. 1 bow and which would get No., "Time was when the Head Of The Charles Regatta was Uncle Sam’s victory lap, a chance for the men’s eight to show the flag and give everyone else a world-class tutorial. Between 1994 and 2007 the star-spangled boat won the championship event 11 times, nine of them in a row.," 21 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Cecile Richards: My Mom Inspired a Generation of Women, Including Me," 11 May 2018

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for coxswain

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coxswain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for coxswain



English Language Learners Definition of coxswain

: a person who is in charge of and usually steers a boat (such as a ship's lifeboat)


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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