a large, flat-bottomed boat for use in shallow water, especially on rivers.

Origin of flatboat

First recorded in 1650–60; flat1 + boat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for flatboat

raft, ark, scow, dory, lighter

Examples from the Web for flatboat

Historical Examples of flatboat

  • The launching of that flatboat was made a feast-day in the neighborhood.

  • Yet the steamboat did not drive the flatboat from the Western rivers.

    Union and Democracy

    Allen Johnson

  • Did you meet a flatboat floating down the river about an hour ago?

    Up the River

    Oliver Optic

  • This was the establishing of steamboat and flatboat communication with New Orleans.


    Marie D. Webster

  • They had found the negro's flatboat, and carried it to the stream.

British Dictionary definitions for flatboat



any boat with a flat bottom, usually for transporting goods on a canal or river
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

Word Origin and History for flatboat

1650s, from flat (adj.) + boat (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper