noun Also show·boat·er (for defs 2, 3).

a boat, especially a paddle-wheel steamer, used as a traveling theater.
Informal. show-off(def 1).
a person, especially an athlete, who performs in an ostentatiously sensational manner calculated to draw attention; show-off.

verb (used without object)

to perform or behave in an outrageous or spectacular manner.

Nearby words

  1. show-stopper,
  2. show-stopping,
  3. show-through,
  4. showa,
  5. showbiz,
  6. showbread,
  7. showcase,
  8. showd,
  9. showdown,
  10. shower

Origin of showboat

An Americanism dating back to 1865–70; show + boat Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for showboat

British Dictionary definitions for showboat



a paddle-wheel river steamer with a theatre and a repertory company


(intr) to perform or behave in a showy and flamboyant way
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 showboat



also show-boat, 1838, "river boat on which theatrical performances are given," from show (n.) + boat (n.). The verb meaning "to show off" is attested from 1951.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper