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[kok-suh n, -sweyn] /ˈkɒk sən, -ˌsweɪn/
the steersman of a racing shell.
a person who is in charge of a ship's boat and its crew, under an officer, and who steers it.
Also, cockswain.
Origin of coxswain
late Middle English
First recorded in 1425-75, coxswain is from the late Middle English word cokeswayne. See cockboat, swain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for coxswain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • coxswain, go on board and tell my steward to have dinner for six.

    Captain Brand of the "Centipede"

    H. A. (Henry Augustus) Wise
  • The coxswain stoops over Cloete and cries: Did you hear what the mate said, sir?

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • Cloete is dragged into the life-boat and the coxswain tumbles in.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • The coxswain of the life-boat can swear to it that the drawers were all empty.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • "He says as how he belonged to a yacht, sir," resumed the coxswain.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
  • It consisted of ten men, the coxswain, the midshipmen, and Harry.

  • One of them was the coxswain, another the harpooner, while the others sat at the oars.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin
  • And, amid silence, the coxswain called his order, "Give way!"

    Major Vigoureux A. T. Quiller-Couch
  • "You be a man and listen, youngster," cried the coxswain tenderly, but firmly.

    The Little Skipper George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for coxswain


/ˈkɒksən; -ˌsweɪn/
the helmsman of a lifeboat, racing shell, etc Also called cockswain
Word Origin
C15: from cock a ship's boat + swain
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 coxswain

early 14c., "officer in charge of a ship's boat and its crew," from cock "ship's boat" (from Old French coque "canoe") + swain "boy," from Old Norse sveinn "boy, servant" (see swain).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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