tugboat

[tuhg-boht]
noun
a small, powerful boat for towing or pushing ships, barges, etc.
Also called towboat, tug.


Origin:
1820–30, Americanism; tug + boat

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

tugboat

small, powerful watercraft designed to perform a variety of functions, especially to tow or push barges and large ships. In 1736 Jonathan Hulls of Gloucestershire, Eng., patented a boat to be powered by a Newcomen steam engine to move large vessels in and out of harbours. The first tugboat actually built was the Charlotte Dundas, powered by a Watt engine and paddle wheel and used on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland. Screw propulsion for tugboats was introduced in the United States about 1850, the diesel engine about 50 years later. Tugs are still indispensable in berthing large ships. Oceangoing tugs are used for salvage missions

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The proof is that it has a suitcase as big as a tugboat along for the trip.
Tell the students to make another tugboat by stacking blocks on top of the
  first tugboat.
The gravel barges would be brought in and out by tugboat.
Then again, there do not seem to be too many other recreational mariners who
  live on a tugboat.
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