a small, powerful boat for towing or pushing ships, barges, etc.

Nearby words

  1. tufty,
  2. tug,
  3. tug of war,
  4. tug-of-love,
  5. tug-of-war,
  6. tugela,
  7. tugrik,
  8. tui,
  9. tuileries,
  10. tuille

Origin of tugboat

An Americanism dating back to 1820–30; tug + boat

Also called towboat, tug.

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

Examples from the Web for tugboat

Word Origin and History for tugboat



1832, from tug (n.) + boat (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper