flat·​boat | \ ˈflat-ˌbōt How to pronounce flatboat (audio) \

Definition of flatboat

: a boat with a flat bottom and square ends used for transportation of bulky freight especially in shallow waters

Examples of flatboat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Then there was Rufus Putnam, the Revolutionary general who actually led the Ohio Company in its difficult journey to Pittsburgh and down the Ohio on flatboats. Polly Campbell, Cincinnati.com, "In 'The Pioneers,' historian McCullough finds heroes in Ohio history," 1 July 2019 Guiding the clumsy flatboats calls for expert navigation. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Lost Art of Floating Logs Down the River," 16 Feb. 2019 Hundreds of thousands of bales of cotton arrived on flatboats—until the railroad took over—from the vast plantations up river to the north. Gully Wells, WSJ, "A Trip to the Florida of Yore," 12 Dec. 2018 Courtyard Inn, 121-133 N. Front Street, Rising Sun The five buildings that form the shuttered Courtyard Inn represent the earliest links to the Ohio River flatboat industry that put Rising Sun on the map. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "These 10 classic, historic Indiana buildings are on borrowed time," 2 May 2018 Daniel Jones, 42, was thrown from a 15-foot flatboat and into the river near the Leisure Landing south of Springfield around 4 p.m. Sunday, Wildlife and Fisheries said. Bob Warren, NOLA.com, "Man's body found after Tickfaw River boat incident," 30 Apr. 2018 Portland was originally this river town community, a maritime river community, all about the river trade, steamboats, flatboats. Nancy Stearns Theiss, The Courier-Journal, "Portland Museum safeguards glimpses of life on the Ohio River in Louisville," 29 Sep. 2017 Workers on flatboats could barely pass under the railroad bridge at Broadway. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "There's hope for Houston in the story of Louisville's Great Flood of 1937," 28 Aug. 2017 In this suspenseful novel, May Bedloe, a young seamstress for a theater company that travels the Ohio River on a flatboat, becomes involved in ferrying infants born into bondage from one side of the river to the other. New York Times, "10 New Books We Recommend This Week," 20 July 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of flatboat

1653, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about flatboat

Statistics for flatboat

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flatboat

The first known use of flatboat was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for flatboat


flat·​boat | \ ˈflat-ˌbōt How to pronounce flatboat (audio) \

Kids Definition of flatboat

: a large boat with a flat bottom and square ends

More from Merriam-Webster on flatboat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flatboat

Comments on flatboat

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


readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!