gun·​boat | \ ˈgən-ˌbōt How to pronounce gunboat (audio) \

Definition of gunboat

: an armed ship of shallow draft

Examples of gunboat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In summer 1906 a Royal Navy torpedo gunboat, HMS Spanker, was steaming off the west coast of Scotland. Richard Davenport-hines, WSJ, "‘A Dominant Character’ Review: The Most Problematic Polymath," 21 Aug. 2020 The sailors on the gunboats undertook a last-minute mission without proper training or equipment and were captured after straying into the waters surrounding an Iranian naval base on Farsi Island. T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, "Trump Says U.S. Is Ready for War. Not All His Troops Are So Sure.," 17 Jan. 2020 He was once chased across the Gulf of Mexico by law enforcement personnel in gunboats while trying to photograph Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston on vacation. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, "As celebs shelter at home, paparazzi hustle to find new angles," 3 Apr. 2020 During the Civil War, Meeker served as a paymaster on a US Navy gunboat in Louisiana and sketched the swamps in his spare time. Zachary Fine, The New York Review of Books, "Swampland Sublime: The Landscapes of Louisiana," 8 Feb. 2020 On the morning of July 3, the Vincennes was engaged in combat alongside the frigate USS Montgomery, exchanging fire with Iranian gunboats that were threatening a Pakistani tanker in the Gulf, according to the US Navy report. Brad Lendon, CNN, "In 1988, a US Navy warship shot down an Iranian passenger plane in the heat of battle," 10 Jan. 2020 Another setback came last November when Russia rammed and seized two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug attempting to enter the Sea of Azov, a body of water shared between them. The Economist, "America and its allies are helping Ukraine to get its sea legs back," 9 Aug. 2019 The British Heritage, a vessel owned by BP, a British oil firm, was sailing east through the Strait of Hormuz on July 10th when three Iranian gunboats allegedly tried to halt its passage. The Economist, "A British warship stops Iran seizing an oil tanker," 11 July 2019 On this day in 1905, the steam boilers of the gunboat Bennington exploded at the H Street Pier killing 66 and injuring 40 more in the worst peacetime naval disaster the nation had yet experienced. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: In 1905 the gunboat Bennington exploded in San Diego harbor," 21 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gunboat.' 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 gunboat

1777, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of gunboat was in 1777

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Cite this Entry

“Gunboat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for gunboat


How to pronounce gunboat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gunboat

: a small ship with guns


gun·​boat | \ ˈgən-ˌbōt How to pronounce gunboat (audio) \

Kids Definition of gunboat

: a small armed ship for use near a coast

More from Merriam-Webster on gunboat

Nglish: Translation of gunboat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gunboat for Arabic Speakers

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