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[boh-suh n; spelling pronunciation boht-sweyn] /ˈboʊ sən; spelling pronunciation ˈboʊtˌsweɪn/
a warrant officer on a warship, or a petty officer on a merchant vessel, in charge of rigging, anchors, cables, etc.
Also, bo's'n, bosun.
Origin of boatswain
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English bote-swayn. See boat, swain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for boatswain
  • The boatswain and a mate trained a fire hose on the plate, and the mud came down in curtains.
  • The seamanship at fault: but this expression may be glossed by supposing the boatswain to have sounded that call on his whistle.
  • The captain and the mate have been lost in the gale and the boatswain therefore heads the crew.
  • The boatswain's chair is used only for transporting employees.
  • boatswain means the leading seaman and immediate supervisor of deck crew who supervises the maintenance of deck gear.
  • He got into the boatswain's chair at the edge of the pit.
  • Albeit not a navigational instrument, the boatswain's pipe was a tool of great value.
  • Where these exceptions apply, the employee may be hoisted in either a personnel platform or a boatswain's chair.
  • The tie-off type support would have to meet the requirements of a boatswain's chair or other single point adjustable scaffold.
British Dictionary definitions for boatswain


a petty officer on a merchant ship or a warrant officer on a warship who is responsible for the maintenance of the ship and its equipment
Word Origin
Old English bātswegen; see boat, swain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for boatswain

mid-15c., from late Old English batswegen, from bat "boat" (see boat (n.)) + Old Norse sveinn "boy" (see swain). Phonetic spelling bo'sun is attested from 1840.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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