[see-muh n]

noun, plural sea·men.

a person skilled in seamanship.
a person whose trade or occupation is assisting in the handling, sailing, and navigating of a ship during a voyage, especially one below the rank of officer; sailor.
U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. an enlisted person ranking below petty officer.

Origin of seaman

before 900; Middle English seeman, Old English sǣmann. See sea, man1
Related formssu·per·sea·man, noun, plural su·per·sea·men.

Synonyms for seaman

See sailor. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for seamen

Contemporary Examples of seamen

  • Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?

    David Frum

    April 9, 2013

  • When their fears are realized and the island looks likely to “shrivel and die” the seamen are driven to drastic measures.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Must Read Novels: Ballard, Dybek, and Krasznahorkai

    Jacob Silverman, Malcolm Forbes, John McIntyre

    April 23, 2012

  • It had 168 seamen aboard and was held for more than six months.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Pirate Whisperer

    Shaun Assael

    February 5, 2009

  • I have documentation of 38 seamen who have gone missing in the last ten years.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Pirate Whisperer

    Shaun Assael

    February 5, 2009

Historical Examples of seamen

British Dictionary definitions for seamen


noun plural -men

a rating trained in seamanship as opposed to electrical engineering, etc
a man who serves as a sailor
a person skilled in seamanship
Derived Formsseaman-like, adjectiveseamanly, adjective, adverb
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 seamen



"a sailor," Old English sæmanna (plural); see sea + man (n.). Cf. Dutch zeeman, German Seemann, Old Norse sjomaðr.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper