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[tuhg-boht] /ˈtʌgˌboʊt/
a small, powerful boat for towing or pushing ships, barges, etc.
Also called towboat, tug.
Origin of tugboat
An Americanism dating back to 1820-30; tug + boat Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tugboat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was an odd defiance, a tugboat's challenge to a German battle line.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • In fact, it was impossible for them to have done so, but there could be no doubt that they were all on the tugboat.

    Up the Forked River

    Edward Sylvester Ellis
  • Martella, I am now ready to join you in capturing the tugboat.

    Up the Forked River

    Edward Sylvester Ellis
  • No attempt was made on the tugboat to bring the second piece into action.

    Up the Forked River

    Edward Sylvester Ellis
  • This was followed by a cloud of steam that seemed to completely envelop the tugboat.

    Randy of the River Horatio Alger Jr.
  • The crew of the tugboat bailed out the derelict and towed her to Penzance.

    The Pillar of Light Louis Tracy
  • It was like a pygmy daring a giant, a tugboat challenging the Imperator.

  • Yes, she had read stories of one who commanded a tugboat in Puget Sound.

    The Phantom Violin Roy J. Snell
Word Origin and History for tugboat

1832, from tug (n.) + boat (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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