variants or less commonly man-o'-war
plural men-of-war ˌme-nə(v)-ˈwȯr How to pronounce man-of-war (audio) also men-o'-war ˌme-nə-ˈwȯr How to pronounce man-of-war (audio)
: a combatant warship of a recognized navy

Examples of man-of-war in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web My hundred-and-forty-foot man-of-war sought to make the first mission to the South Pole, a feat that would bring pride to England. Mike O’Brien, The New Yorker, 7 Nov. 2023 Its lyrics, about a sailor bidding goodbye to his lover before boarding a man-of-war bound for England, were written not by Mr. Whittaker but by a British silversmith who responded to a radio contest in which Mr. Whittaker invited listeners to send in verses, with the best put to music. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 Just as airpower eventually killed off the great men-of-war that had ruled the waves for millennia, so cyberweapons might strip other weapons or tactics of their utility. Kenneth M. Pollack, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 The average man-of-war was estimated by a leading shipwright to last only fourteen years. David Grann, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2023 In May, the old East Indiaman finally emerged from the Deptford Dockyard as a man-of-war. David Grann, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'man-of-war.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of man-of-war was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near man-of-war

Cite this Entry

“Man-of-war.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural men-of-war
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