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[guhn-boht] /ˈgʌnˌboʊt/
a small, armed warship of light draft, used in ports where the water is shallow.
any small ship carrying mounted guns.
Origin of gunboat
1770-80; gun1 + boat Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gunboat
  • gunboat diplomacy is based on showing the willingness to fire when threatened.
  • The gunboat's capstan was capable of moving weights of several tons.
  • They also fished from the sides of the gunboat to supplement their meals.
  • Realpolitik and gunboat diplomacy feel exactly the same regardless of the flag on the gunboat.
British Dictionary definitions for gunboat


a small shallow-draft vessel carrying mounted guns and used by coastal patrols, etc
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 gunboat

1793, from gun + boat. Gunboat diplomacy is from 1916, originally with reference to Western policies in China.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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