gun·​wale | \ ˈgə-nᵊl How to pronounce gunwale (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of gunwale

: the upper edge of a ship's or boat's side
to the gunwales
: as fully as possible The doorbell rang, and Flanagan let in his wife, who was loaded to the gunwales with groceries.— Whitney Balliett

Examples of gunwale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At this point another boat glided by, its gunwales lined with tourists staring into the cameras. Christopher Borrelli,, "Behind the odd charm of the ‘Batwoman’ set in Chicago, even after they kicked me off," 2 Oct. 2019 Near the bow Marina Antonopoulou, with Emirates Nature-World Wildlife Fund, perches on the gunwale. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "Sea turtles are surviving—despite us," 20 Sep. 2019 Scared to put weight on the thin plywood hull, the men arranged themselves in a ring atop the gunwales, balancing skinny bodies with plump ones. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 As the car came down, four men guided it toward the I beams laid across the gunwales, securing the wheels with wooden blocks, like a truck parked on a hill. Rowan Moore Gerety, Harper's magazine, "Downstream," 10 June 2019 Well over a million pounds of salmon have crossed her gunwales. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "At Bristol Bay, there’s a changing of the guard at the boatyard," 7 July 2018 Part of it had landed squarely behind the boat’s bow, pressing a section of gunwale flat to the keel. Popular Mechanics, "When Storms Fell the Trees, Father and Son Make the Most of the Mess," 13 Oct. 2018 The upmarket tester boasted a lovely interior loaded to the gunwales with standard gear. Al Haas,, "Refreshed for 2019, Buick Envision is roomy, comfortable, and quiet," 12 July 2018 Gaze over the gunwales and listen: There’s an egret rookery out on Indian Island. Robert Earle Howells,, "Insider: A sea captain’s guide to Eureka," 5 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gunwale

Middle English gonne-wale, from gonne gun + wale entry 1; from its former use as a support for guns

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Time Traveler for gunwale

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Gunwale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for gunwale


How to pronounce gunwale (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gunwale

: the upper edge of a ship's or boat's side


gun·​wale | \ ˈgə-nᵊl How to pronounce gunwale (audio) \

Kids Definition of gunwale

: the upper edge of a ship's side

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gunwale

Spanish Central: Translation of gunwale

Nglish: Translation of gunwale for Spanish Speakers

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