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[sam-pan] /ˈsæm pæn/
any of various small boats of the Far East, as one propelled by a single scull over the stern and provided with a roofing of mats.
Origin of sampan
First recorded in 1610-20, sampan is from the Chinese word sānbǎn three-plank (boat), or < cognate dial. forms Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sampan
Historical Examples
  • Her rig was the Chinese sampan style, which is, I consider, the most convenient boat rig in the whole world.

    Voyage of the Liberdade Captain Joshua Slocum
  • The heads were all put in the sampan, and they made a full load for it.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • Achang and two of the seamen were directed to attend the "Big Four," and they were landed in the sampan.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • As the sampan receded from the saurians, they approached the bait.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • He would call to his shipmates, and they would give the sampan man the ten sen first.

  • It is about my bedtime, and I think I will go to my sampan and retire.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • When you go to Bangkok, I strongly advise you to hire a sampan and visit the floating portion of the city after nightfall.

    Where the Strange Trails Go Down E. Alexander Powell
  • Morris shouted that the sampan was in the channel, and the Blanchita moved into it.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • Jack was just beginning to thrust the paddle down for a strong, deep stroke when the sampan struck something.

    Jack Haydon's Quest John Finnemore
  • Before the sampan passed out of the lagoon into the creek he lifted his eyes.

    Tales of Unrest Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for sampan


any small skiff, widely used in the Orient, that is propelled by oars or a scull
Word Origin
C17: from Chinese san pan, from san three + pan board
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 sampan

light Chinese boat, 1610s, from Chinese san pan, literally "three boards," from san "three" + pan "plank."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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