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See more synonyms for gunboat on Thesaurus.com
  1. a small, armed warship of light draft, used in ports where the water is shallow.
  2. any small ship carrying mounted guns.
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Origin of gunboat

First recorded in 1770–80; gun1 + boat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gunboat

Historical Examples

  • Their gunboat Marmaris was sunk, and the transport Masul captured.

    The Story of the Great War, Volume III (of VIII)


  • She witnessed the first embarkation in a gunboat at Sheerness.

    The Last Voyage

    Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey

  • It was a swordfish and he resembled a gunboat with purple outriggers.

  • The 'Langford' knocked out the gunboat 'Smith' in three rounds.

  • At a signal from the brig, made by waving a flag on the forecastle, the gunboat was stopped.

British Dictionary definitions for gunboat


  1. a small shallow-draft vessel carrying mounted guns and used by coastal patrols, etc
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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

Word Origin and History for gunboat

1793, from gun + boat. Gunboat diplomacy is from 1916, originally with reference to Western policies in China.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper