a small, armed warship of light draft, used in ports where the water is shallow.
any small ship carrying mounted guns.

1770–80; gun1 + boat Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gunboat (ˈɡʌnˌbəʊt)
a small shallow-draft vessel carrying mounted guns and used by coastal patrols, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
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.
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