tug·​boat | \ˈtəg-ˌbōt \

Definition of tugboat 

: a strongly built powerful boat used for towing and pushing

called also towboat

Examples of tugboat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Earlier Monday, the engine of a tugboat pushing six barges in the river caught fire near the Poland Avenue Wharf. Laura Mcknight, NOLA.com, "Shed fire at Lower 9th Ward wharf caused by vagrants: NOFD," 8 May 2018 Executive Director Nathan Howe told me that the Foss is a symbol of the northwest maritime industry and is believed to be the oldest floating tugboat in the world. Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario, The Seattle Times, "Meet the Seattle tugboat that made history across three centuries: the Arthur Foss," 20 June 2017 Norcross said the tugboat and barge reportedly hit the 20-foot pleasure craft and caused the smaller vessel to capsize. Jim Ryan, OregonLive.com, "Tugboat and barge reportedly hit boat on Columbia River; Coast Guard investigating," 21 Mar. 2018 Tonning talked her way into deckhand gigs on Zerlang’s tugboats and the Madaket, and immersed herself in the local maritime culture, taking up residence in a trailer at the boatyard. Robert Earle Howells, SFChronicle.com, "Insider: A sea captain’s guide to Eureka," 5 July 2018 See this magnificent feat of engineering—along with the massive freighters and tiny tugboats traversing its waters—in action, both from an observation platform overlooking the locks or aboard an exciting boat tour. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian, "The 20 Best Small Towns To Visit in 2018," 5 June 2018 The Jackie Dee, named after that tugboat, is vodka, Go Girl energy drink, orange juice and Sprite. Allen Pierleoni, sacbee, "Where to go for fun and food along Sacramento's Garden Highway," 18 May 2018 In winter, Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade illuminates the night with a procession of decorated ships, and Santa arriving by tugboat. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian, "The 20 Best Small Towns To Visit in 2018," 5 June 2018 The bridge stands about 25 feet above the water, which is why even the tugboats couldn’t fit beneath it. Paul Berger, WSJ, "Portal Bridge Project Faces Uphill Funding Battle," 2 June 2018

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

1830, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near tugboat

Tu Fu




tug chain



Statistics for tugboat

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tugboat

The first known use of tugboat was in 1830

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More Definitions for tugboat



English Language Learners Definition of tugboat

: a small, powerful boat that is used for pulling and pushing ships especially into harbors or up rivers


tug·​boat | \ˈtəg-ˌbōt \

Kids Definition of tugboat

: a small powerful boat used for towing ships

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More from Merriam-Webster on tugboat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tugboat

Spanish Central: Translation of tugboat

Nglish: Translation of tugboat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tugboat for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tugboat

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to enclose within walls

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