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See more synonyms for boat on Thesaurus.com
  1. a vessel for transport by water, constructed to provide buoyancy by excluding water and shaped to give stability and permit propulsion.
  2. a small ship, generally for specialized use: a fishing boat.
  3. a small vessel carried for use by a large one, as a lifeboat: They lowered the boats for evacuation.
  4. a ship.
  5. a vessel of any size built for navigation on a river or other inland body of water.
  6. a serving dish resembling a boat: a gravy boat; a celery boat.
  7. Ecclesiastical. a container for holding incense before it is placed in the censer.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to go in a boat: We boated down the Thames.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to transport in a boat: They boated us across the bay.
  2. to remove (an oar) from the water and place athwartships.Compare ship1(def 10).
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  1. in the same boat, in the same circumstances; faced with the same problems: The new recruits were all in the same boat.
  2. miss the boat, Informal.
    1. to fail to take advantage of an opportunity: He missed the boat when he applied too late to get into college.
    2. to miss the point of; fail to understand: I missed the boat on that explanation.
  3. rock the boat. rock2(def 17).
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Origin of boat

before 900; Middle English boot (noun), Old English bāt; cognate with Old Norse beit
Related formsboat·a·ble, adjectiveboat·less, adjective
Can be confusedbarge boat canoe cruise ship sailboat ship yacht
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


British Dictionary definitions for miss the boat


  1. a small vessel propelled by oars, paddle, sails, or motor for travelling, transporting goods, etc, esp one that can be carried aboard a larger vessel
  2. (not in technical use) another word for ship
  3. navy a submarine
  4. a container for gravy, sauce, etc
  5. a small boat-shaped container for incense, used in some Christian churches
  6. in the same boat sharing the same problems
  7. burn one's boats See burn 1 (def. 19)
  8. miss the boat to lose an opportunity
  9. push the boat out British informal to celebrate, esp lavishly and expensively
  10. rock the boat informal to cause a disturbance in the existing situation
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  1. (intr) to travel or go in a boat, esp as a form of recreation
  2. (tr) to transport or carry in a boat
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Word Origin

Old English bāt; related to Old Norse beit boat
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 miss the boat



Old English bat "boat, ship, vessel," from Proto-Germanic *bait- (cf. Old Norse batr, Dutch boot, German Boot), possibly from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (see fissure), with the sense of making a boat by hollowing out a tree trunk; or it may be an extension of the name for some part of a ship. French bateau "boat" is from Old English or Norse. Spanish batel, Italian battello, Medieval Latin batellus likewise probably are from Germanic.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with miss the boat

miss the boat


Fail to take advantage of an opportunity, as in Jean missed the boat on that club membership. This expression, which alludes to not being in time to catch a boat, has been applied more widely since the 1920s.

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Fail to understand something, as in I'm afraid our legislator missed the boat on that amendment to the bill. [Mid-1900s] Also see miss the point.

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see burn one's bridges (boats); in the same boat; miss the boat; rock the boat.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.