merchant marine


: the privately or publicly owned commercial ships of a nation
: the personnel of a merchant marine
specifically : a member of a merchant marine
merchant mariner noun
Jeff Moore, 32, a John Deere salesman whose brother is a merchant mariner and whose father is first mate on a tugboat, keeps a journal of each exploration. Pam Belluck

Examples of merchant marine in a Sentence

a member of the merchant marine
Recent Examples on the Web In the midst of World War II, the Sheen family gained a contract with the military to put their sealant on merchant marine ships leaving the United States. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 27 June 2024 In 1950, the U.S. merchant marine fleet accounted for 43 percent of global shipping; by 1994, that share had dropped to four percent, despite a 1920 law requiring ships passing between U.S. ports to be built and registered in the United States and operated by a crew of mostly U.S. citizens. Kori Schake, Foreign Affairs, 22 Feb. 2022 The law was first intended to aid US merchant marines and ensure American shipowners could compete equally with those from leading seafaring nations like Great Britain. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 31 Mar. 2024 The bronze sculpture, which was unveiled in 1991, is based on an historical event that took place during World War II when a Nazi U-boat attacked a merchant marine vessel, and as the victims grasped to their sinking boat in an attempt to save their lives, their German opponents photographed them. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Sep. 2020 At the southernmost edge of San Pedro’s coast, tucked away on a residential block near Point Fermin Park, sit the bones of Walker’s Cafe, once a bustling cultural hub where families, longshoremen, merchant marines and motorcycle riders gathered for burgers and cold beers. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2023 Under a 1920 merchant marine law that protects American shipyards from competition, for example, only noncombat ships can be repaired by other countries. Damien Cave, New York Times, 17 Oct. 2023 The first lesson for the aspiring merchant marines is not about seafaring, but instead about where to seek shelter during an air raid. Marc Santora Laetitia Vancon, New York Times, 26 Sep. 2023 The law would not apply to out-of-state visitors renting a boat in Massachusetts, merchant marines, commercial fishermen, or active armed forces members who are authorized to operate a boat. Nick Stoico,, 27 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'merchant marine.' 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

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of merchant marine was in 1839

Dictionary Entries Near merchant marine

Cite this Entry

“Merchant marine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

merchant marine

: the commercial ships of a nation
: the persons who work in a merchant marine

More from Merriam-Webster on merchant marine

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