life preserver

a buoyant jacket, belt, or other like device for keeping a person afloat.
British Slang. a weapon, especially a short stick with a weighted head; blackjack.

1630–40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
life preserver
1.  (Brit) a club or bludgeon, esp one kept for self-defence
2.  (US), (Canadian) a life belt or life jacket

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
Life preserver means a flotation device used by an aircraft occupant if the
  aircraft ditches in water.
And if possible, throw a life preserver or floatation device.
Keep lifesaving equipment, such as a pole, life preserver and rope in the pool
Accompanying the remains were portions of a pilot's flight suit and a pneumatic
  life preserver.
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