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

Sidoo discussed the possibility that at least one son, Jordan, a coxswain in high school, be recruited to Stanford. New York Times, "Caught Up in the College Admissions Scandal: Stanford’s Boathouse," 17 July 2019 Petty Officer third class Aaron Hadden, coxswain aboard the rescue boat, said in the news release., "Coast Guard, fellow boaters rescue 6 from sunken boat on the Oregon coast," 5 July 2019 During one interview, a well-meaning press officer from the Ministry of Defense tried to cut short a conversation with 94-year-old Ted Emmings — a Royal Navy coxswain who ferried Canadians to Juno Beach — because a cab had arrived to take him home. Washington Post, "D-Day veterans choke back tears to ensure memories live on," 8 June 2019 Though neither of Loughlin’s daughters were rowers, the parents saw being a coxswain as their ticket into the private college, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Matthew Ormseth,, "Lori Loughlin and husband could face legal conflict with USC over admissions scandal," 6 June 2019 Those distractions put extra pressure on the coxswain to keep the boat straight, Buckley said, and made the race even more difficult mentally than physically, Baldo said. Ben Pope,, "Temple can't escape an American dynasty at England's Henley Royal Regatta," 6 July 2018 That means extra work for Cambria Stirrat, who tucks herself into the stern as coxswain. David Wharton,, "Orange Coast crew takes on sport's royalty at Henley regatta in England," 28 June 2018 The poetic gaze of a boat-lover, sailor, rower and coxswain is apparent on every page. Joshunda Sanders, Longreads, "Who Sank El Faro? An Interview With Rachel Slade," 23 May 2018 There are four seniors in the top Hawks boat, three rowers and a coxswain. Mike Jensen,, "A different kind of Dad Vail for St. Joe's men - as favorites," 10 May 2018

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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coxwell chair



Statistics for coxswain

Last Updated

29 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for coxswain

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on coxswain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coxswain

Spanish Central: Translation of coxswain

Nglish: Translation of coxswain for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about coxswain

Comments on coxswain

What made you want to look up coxswain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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