lifeboat

[lahyf-boht]
noun
1.
a double-ended ship's boat, constructed, mounted, and provisioned so as to be readily able to rescue and maintain persons from a sinking vessel.
2.
a similarly constructed boat used by shore-based rescue services.

Origin:
1795–1805; life + boat

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World English Dictionary
lifeboat (ˈlaɪfˌbəʊt)
 
n
1.  a boat, propelled by oars or a motor, used for rescuing people at sea, escaping from a sinking ship, etc
2.  informal a fund set up by the dealers in a market to rescue any member who may become insolvent as a result of a collapse in market prices

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

lifeboat

watercraft especially built for rescue missions. There are two types, the relatively simple versions carried on board ships and the larger, more complex craft based on shore. Modern shore-based lifeboats are generally about 40-50 feet (12-15 metres) long and are designed to stay afloat under severe sea conditions. Sturdiness of construction, self-righting ability, reserve buoyancy, and manoeuvrability in surf, especially in reversing direction, are prime characteristics

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Do you get off the big steel ship and climb into the little wooden lifeboat hanging over the side five stories up off the water.
Veteran's ship was sunk by a torpedo, veteran spent nine days on a lifeboat before seeing land.
Weight test all lifeboats and lifeboat davits, all life raft davits and the rescue boat and davit.
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