• WordNet 3.6
    • n boatswain a petty officer on a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The English Romantic poet Lord Byron was so devastated upon the death of his beloved Newfoundland, whose name was Boatswain, that he had inscribed upon the dog's gravestone the following: "Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices."
    • Boatswain (Naut) An officer who has charge of the boats, sails, rigging, colors, anchors, cables, cordage, etc., of a ship, and who also summons the crew, and performs other duties.
    • Boatswain (Zoöl) The jager gull.
    • Boatswain (Zoöl) The tropic bird.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n boatswain A subordinate officer of a ship, who has charge of the rigging, anchors, cables, and cordage. It is his duty also to summon the crew for any evolution, and to assist the executive officer in the necessary business of the ship. His station is always on the forecastle, and a silver call or whistle is the badge of his office.
    • n boatswain A jäger or skua; any bird of the genus Lestris or Stercorarius.
    • n boatswain A name of birds of the genus Phaëthon. See tropic-bird.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Boatswain bōt′swān (colloq. bō′sn), a petty officer on board ship who looks after the boats, rigging, &c., and calls the seamen to duty with a whistle.
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Boat, + swain,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Boat, and swain, Scand. sveinn, a boy.


In literature:

"Poor Jack" by Frederick Marryat
The life of a boatswain is a life of 'mergency, and therefore I swear.
"Peter Simple" by Frederick Marryat
The very contemplation of this beneficent arrangement is enough to make a swearing boatswain pious.
"Rattlin the Reefer" by Edward Howard
He received only the pay of a boatswain's mate, but he was styled boatswain on the books.
"Snarley-yow" by Frederick Marryat
The boatswain was washed over the bulwark and dashed to leeward, where the lee-rigging only saved him from a watery grave.
"The Pirate" by Frederick Marryat
There was no need to warn the boatswain.
"The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands" by R.M. Ballantyne
The men seemed to shout with the memory of the boatswain strong upon them, for their tones were pitched in the deepest and gruffest bass-key.
"Personal Reminiscences in Book Making" by R.M. Ballantyne
The boatswain is an old man-o'-war's-man, and is a capital shot.
"Held Fast For England" by G. A. Henty
He groped his way aft as fast as he could, for fear of encountering the boatswain's mate.
"Paul Gerrard" by W.H.G. Kingston
Hartley, going to the door, sent the boatswain off to the kitchen for a glass of ale.
"Salthaven" by W. W. Jacobs

In poetry:

The Boatswain swore with wicked words,
Enough to shock a saint,
That though she did seem in a fit,
'Twas nothing but a feint.
"Faithless Sally Brown" by Thomas Hood
Boatswain, lifting one knowing lid,
Hitches his breeches and shifts his quid
"Hey? What is it? Who 's come to grief
Louder, young swab, I 'm a little deaf."
"The Old Cruiser" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Her crew of ghosts was all on deck
Or clambering up the shrouds;
The boatswain's whistle, the captain's hail,
Were like the piping of the gale,
And thunder in the clouds.
"Tales Of A Wayside Inn : Part 2. The Musician's Tale; The Ballad of Carmilhan - IV. " by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On the wild beach in mournful guise he stood,
Ere the shrill boatswain gave the hated sign;
He dropp'd a tear unseen into the flood;
He stole one secret moment, to repine.
"Elegy XX. He Compares His Humble Fortune With the Distress of Others" by William Shenstone
The peopled Lake, of song, and lively cheer,
And Boatswain's whistle bears the jovial sound;
While rosy pennants, floating on the air,
Tinge the soft seas of glass, that sleep around.
"Hoyle Lake" by Anna Seward
But say, if, at night, the sad cry comes for wearing;
The breakers a-head, and the boatswain loud swearing;
When the main-yard dips deep, and white billows break o'er us;
Will my Nancy not shrink then amid the dread chorus?
"Jack And Nancy. A Sea Song" by Hector MacNeill

In news:

Meet Eva Hogan, your 2011-2012 National Sea Scout Boatswain .
On behalf of the whole seventh grade at Homer Middle School, we would like to say how much we appreciate and thank Boatswain's Mate David Lewald for volunteering to teach navigation recently during our survival unit.
Boatswain's Mate Second Class Kevin Cornell had no problem readjusting the interest rate on one credit card through the relief act, but had trouble doing the same on another.
Meet Eva Hogan, your 2011-2012 National Sea Scout Boatswain.
"Like I said I've been out here 35 years and I've never seen anything out here before like that," said Boatswain resident Tommy Banton.
A boatswain's mate and his crew followed Cullen to the landing spot, but saw only the submarine temporarily stuck on a sandbar.
It shows Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Robert Vitolo directing an E-2C Hawkeye aboard an aircraft carrier, USS John C Stennis.
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Kristopher Smith gives the thumbs up for pilot Lt Col. Fred Schenk to lift an F-35B Lightning II off the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1).