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[kok-suh n, -sweyn] /ˈkɒk sən, -ˌsweɪn/
the steersman of a racing shell.
a person who is in charge of a ship's boat and its crew, under an officer, and who steers it.
Also, cockswain.
Origin of coxswain
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English cokeswayne. See cockboat, swain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for coxswain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The coxswain of the gig had been previously cautioned not to allow the instructor to handle the yoke-lines again.

    The Dreadnought of the Air Percy F. Westerman
  • The officers of the club shall consist of a coxswain, as president, and a clerk.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • The coxswain, in obedience to his orders, accompanied me to the Blue Post.

    Peter Simple Frederick Marryat
  • According to the constitution you must all obey the coxswain.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • "Near it," says the coxswain (and now sounds a blast of his whistle).

    Merchantmen-at-Arms David W. Bone
  • "If I were coxswain, I would let you land," said Charles sulkily.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • It consisted of ten men, the coxswain, the midshipmen, and Harry.

  • "Tim will get his revenge upon us for this morning if he can," suggested the coxswain.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • The coxswain then went forward and helped with the baling, while the men recommenced rowing in silence.

    The Black Bar George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for coxswain


/ˈkɒksən; -ˌsweɪn/
the helmsman of a lifeboat, racing shell, etc Also called cockswain
Word Origin
C15: from cock a ship's 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 coxswain

early 14c., "officer in charge of a ship's boat and its crew," from cock "ship's boat" (from Old French coque "canoe") + swain "boy," from Old Norse sveinn "boy, servant" (see swain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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