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show·​boat ˈshō-ˌbōt How to pronounce showboat (audio)
: a river steamship containing a theater and carrying a troupe of actors to give plays at river communities
: one who tries to attract attention by conspicuous behavior


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showboated; showboating; showboats

intransitive verb

: to behave in a conspicuous or ostentatious manner : show off
showboater noun

Examples of showboat in a Sentence

Noun The fans like him, but the other players think he's a showboat. Verb She was showboating for the cameras when she tripped and fell. the gymnast was showboating for the cameras when she lost her balance and fell
Recent Examples on the Web
But for all his talent and confidence as a performer, composer and bandleader, Shorter was frequently overshadowed by showboats, not least his Weather Report bandmate Jaco Pastorius. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Aug. 2023 Back then, skeptics tried to describe him in ways that limited his accomplishments — dismissing him as selfish or a showboat. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2023 Unlike his onscreen persona, actor Phil Dunster, who plays showboat soccer player Jamie Tartt, just did fans a huge solid by revealing that season 3 will deliver more of what Ted Lasso does best — fleshing out the multitudes and dimensions of every character. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 4 June 2022 Mary Catherine has a little showboat in her, too. Matt Young, Chron, 22 Oct. 2021 There are worries that the global money-laundering police are poised to crack down, and the experiment has so undermined confidence in its showboat president's economic program that his nation's debt is now selling for 36 cents on the dollar. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2022 To many of those inside the world of mountaineering, though, Nims Purja is a climber in every sense of the word — as much a showboat and a hustle-minded careerist as a talented alpinist. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 25 Jan. 2023 The only thing that outstaged Cruise's showboat helicopter entrance was that magnificent hair – entirely brown and bouncy. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 3 July 2022 Marian is the opposite of a showboat, but Foster dims her radiance more than is necessary. Charles McNultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2022
Don’t showboat around the bases. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Apr. 2022 But that was neither showboating nor talking trash. Dalton Ross,, 1 Apr. 2020 There are no showboating gestures here, only a bone-deep commitment to showing us the lives of individuals often relegated to the cinematic sidelines, to the extent that the movies even notice them all. Justin Chang,, 12 Sep. 2019 Three quarters of sleepwalking, showboating and unwatchable basketball, followed by one quarter of the most intense and least-artistic basketball of the season. Scott Ostler,, 16 Feb. 2020 Bill Pullman is the Bilott team’s showboating West Virginia trial lawyer, who celebrates success in the courtroom by snapping his suspenders with satisfaction. David Sims, The Atlantic, 22 Nov. 2019 Fingers a-flutter, Marsalis confidently flew through composer Jacques Ibert’s flamboyant solo section — making sure his virtuosity was that of musicianship, not showboating. Matthew J. Palm,, 29 Sep. 2019 The main negatives for me are showboating and mascots. Bruce Jenkins,, 21 Sep. 2019 Their duel had something often lacking in this memorable era of men’s tennis: an edge, as Kyrgios showboated and intentionally smacked balls at Nadal’s body, ignoring the glares that Nadal sometimes fired back. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, 4 July 2019 See More

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


1937, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of showboat was in 1839

Dictionary Entries Near showboat

Cite this Entry

“Showboat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a river steamboat used as a traveling theater

More from Merriam-Webster on showboat

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