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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
Historical Examples
  • One gunboat had already arrived, and General Hunter decided on going up in her himself.

  • All this while the Spanish gunboat had been firing away with all her might and main.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • Lawrence recrossed the ocean again in his gunboat, and commanded her for some time after.

    Twelve Naval Captains Molly Elliot Seawell
  • He had chosen the name of a Spanish gunboat he knew to be at sea; and the ruse worked.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • The unwieldy three-decker of the invective should be reduced to the manageable form of the epistolary torpedo and gunboat.

  • The lost vessel was a gunboat, and her crew would not be more than 150.

    A Soldier's Life Edwin G. Rundle
  • The gunboat immediately was made the target for the German guns, and sunk.

    Cappy Ricks Retires Peter B. Kyne
  • The deck of the gunboat we thought an ideal place to spend the night.

    A Soldier in the Philippines Needom N. Freeman
  • The sea had scarcely closed over the Re d'Italia when another misfortune occurred; the gunboat Palestro took fire.

    The Liberation of Italy Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco
  • I am the second lieutenant on board H.M.'s gunboat, the John Bright.

    The Fixed Period Anthony Trollope
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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