sea·​man | \ ˈsē-mən How to pronounce seaman (audio) \

Definition of seaman

2a : any of the three ranks below petty officer in the navy or coast guard
b : an enlisted man in the navy or coast guard ranking above a seaman apprentice and below a petty officer

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Examples of seaman in a Sentence

a weathered old seaman who now captains a tour boat
Recent Examples on the Web Jerry Boylan is already facing federal criminal charges and pleaded not guilty last month to 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter and the criminal investigation remains open. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, "Conception boat owner, criticized as ‘woefully underinsured,’ sells rest of fleet," 11 Mar. 2021 Bill Smith was charged with seaman’s manslaughter in connection with the 2015 death of a crewmate who jumped overboard after the two had been in a fight, according to the paper. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, "US Virgin Islands yacht captain whose girlfriend went missing hired Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyer," 27 Mar. 2021 The clay figures started making their way back to Salem in the early 18th century, packed in duffle bags by merchant seaman who bought them in Indian markets as tourist tchotchke. Murray Whyte,, "At Peabody Essex, a reset on South Asian art," 14 Jan. 2021 Each charge of the seaman's manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "California boat captain indicted on manslaughter charges for 2019 fire that killed 34 people aboard Conception," 3 Dec. 2020 The captain of a California scuba diving boat that caught fire and sank last year in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent U.S. history was indicted Tuesday on 34 counts of federal seaman’s manslaughter. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "California boat captain indicted on manslaughter charges for 2019 fire that killed 34 people aboard Conception," 3 Dec. 2020 The captain, Jerry Nehl Boylan, who was one of five crew members who escaped, was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said in a statement. NBC News, "Captain of Conception dive boat indicted on 34 manslaughter counts in deadly fire," 2 Dec. 2020 If convicted, Boylan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of seaman’s manslaughter, although defendants have typically served less time in custody. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, "Captain in Conception dive boat fire indicted on 34 counts of manslaughter," 1 Dec. 2020 They were transferred to the fire department’s 30-foot rescue boat, but the third seaman was nowhere to be found. Peter Fimrite,, "Escape from frigid waters near Alcatraz: Three rescued after boat sinks in S.F. Bay," 15 Nov. 2020

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for seaman

Time Traveler

The first known use of seaman was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Seaman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of seaman

: an experienced sailor
: a sailor in the U.S. or British Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard who is not an officer


sea·​man | \ ˈsē-mən How to pronounce seaman (audio) \
plural seamen\ -​mən \

Kids Definition of seaman

1 : a person who helps in the handling of a ship at sea : sailor
2 : an enlisted person in the navy or coast guard ranking above a seaman apprentice

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