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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
  • The coxswain, who steers the boat and acts as on-water coach, needs to be lightweight.
  • He was popular, a lively coxswain for the crew team.
  • We carry a dive float with us so that our location remains visible to our coxswain at all times.
  • Do not hesitate to bring potential hazards or problems to the attention of the coxswain and/or other team members.
  • The boat is typically operated by a coxswain and a surveyor.
  • The officer or coxswain in charge of the boat shall remain seated or standing and shall not salute.
  • He led his group back across the reef to its landing craft and ordered the coxswain to make for the pier.
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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