• synonyms


[free-bawrd, -bohrd]
  1. Nautical.
    1. the distance between the level of the water and the upper surface of the freeboard deck amidships at the side of a hull: regulated by the agencies of various countries according to the construction of the hull, the type of cargo carried, the area of the world in which it sails, the type of water, and the season of the year.Compare load line.
    2. (on a cargo vessel) the distance between the uppermost deck considered fully watertight and the official load line.
    3. the portion of the side of a hull that is above the water.
  2. Civil Engineering. the height of the watertight portion of a building or other construction above a given level of water in a river, lake, etc.
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Origin of freeboard

1670–80; free + board; translation of French franc bord
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for freeboard

Historical Examples

  • It was long, narrow, and low in freeboard and was fitted with a centerboard.

    The Migrations of an American Boat Type

    Howard I. Chapelle

  • But that was of less concern to me than the lack of freeboard.

    Down the Yellowstone

    Lewis R. Freeman

  • She had a lot of freeboard, and carried two lug-sails and a small mizzen.

    One of the 28th

    G. A. Henty

  • The canoe tipped inch by inch, and the boiling water crept up its freeboard.

    The Woman from Outside

    Hulbert Footner

  • The new cruiser has a freeboard of about four feet above water.

British Dictionary definitions for freeboard


  1. the space or distance between the deck of a vessel and the waterline
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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