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

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 From that spot, only the oar-less coxswain can see precisely where the vessel is headed. Jeff Sanders,, "Regatta in Boston only the beginning for San Diego Rowing Club," 18 Oct. 2017 At each stop, rowing’s main event features a nine-person boat: Eight rowers working in unison to pull a 65-foot vessel through the water as a coxswain coaches his or her team through movements that are so much more than meets the casual eye. Jeff Sanders,, "Regatta in Boston only the beginning for San Diego Rowing Club," 18 Oct. 2017 Chris Lemerand was a coxswain on the men’s rowing team at Michigan, and is now a sous chef at COI, a two-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco. Tom Taylor,, "The Best Energy Gels and Bars for Running and Endurance Training," 16 Aug. 2017 As the coxswain, Jamir doesn't row, but gives directions to the eight rowers. Michelle Liu, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rowing club brings Milwaukee Public Schools students into the fold," 21 July 2017

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



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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coxswain

Spanish Central: Translation of coxswain

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

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


something valued as if it were money

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