tug·​boat | \ ˈtəg-ˌbōt How to pronounce tugboat (audio) \

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

Unlike a ship, the Lomonosov cannot move anywhere on its own, lacking a propulsion system, and instead requires tugboats to guide it. NBC News, "Russia's 'floating Chernobyl' nuclear plant begins voyage north," 23 Aug. 2019 And so in April the ship traveled from Seattle to the California port of Vallejo, where tugboats nudged it into a slip and onto blocks. Los Angeles Times, "Meet the neglected 43-year-old stepchild of the U.S. military-industrial complex," 2 Aug. 2019 The biggest tugboat is the Shapley Supercluster, a behemoth of 50 million billion solar masses that resides about 500 million light years away from Earth (and not too far away in the sky from the Vela Supercluster). Quanta Magazine, "Hidden Supercluster Could Solve Milky Way Mystery," 21 Nov. 2017 The hub has already signed partnerships with shipping companies like the tugboat company Moran, marine science hubs including the New England Aquarium, academic institutions including Tufts, and several venture capital firms. John Konrad, BostonGlobe.com, "The next global tech disruption will happen where few expect it," 28 June 2019 Billings apparently lost control after two tugboats assisting her cast off their tow lines, leaving the littoral combat ship under her own power. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "One of the Navy's New Warships Just Crashed in Canada," 26 June 2019 Orlando witnessed the landings at Omaha Beach from his tugboat. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "‘We’re Still in the Same Boat.’ As the World Marks 75 Years Since D-Day, the Men Who Were There Look Back—and Ahead," 5 June 2019 The confrontation Sunday began when three Ukrainian naval vessels—two armored artillery ships and one tugboat—were traveling through the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, "Haley Calls Russia Reckless in Tense Standoff With Ukraine," 26 Nov. 2018 The tugboat law has been in effect continuously since 2011. Joshua Miller, BostonGlobe.com, "Healey, blasting oil barge industry, looks to protect Mass. tugboat escort law," 24 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of tugboat

1830, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tugboat

Dictionary Entries near tugboat

Tu Fu




tug chain



Statistics for tugboat

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tugboat

The first known use of tugboat was in 1830

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce tugboat (audio) \

Kids Definition of tugboat

: a small powerful boat used for towing ships

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on tugboat

What made you want to look up tugboat? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!