Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small boat used to peddle provisions to ships anchored offshore.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a small boat used for carrying provisions to ships lying at anchor in a harbour

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A clumsy boat, used for conveying provisions, fruit, etc., for sale, to vessels lying in port or off shore.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A boat used in peddling fresh vegetables, fruit, and small wares among the vessels lying in a harbor or roadstead.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small boat that ferries supplies and commodities for sale to a larger ship at anchor

Etymologies

Probably partial translation of Low German bumboot, ship's boat, partial translation of Dutch dialectal bomschuit, small fishing boat : bom, ship's bottom (from Dutch bodem, from Middle Dutch) + schuit, ship.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Dutch bomschuit ("small fishing boat") + boat. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The "bumboat," laden with delicious fruits and every kind of fresh provender to tempt the Blue jacket and hungry midshipman -- in my own days, utterly sick of the "salt-horse" (salt meat) and weevilly biscuit; but now, alas! the sailor is a spoilt child and quite daintily fed, hence the bumboat is not so great a treat to him when coming from "blue water."

    Fair Italy, the Riviera and Monte Carlo Comprising a Tour Through North and South Italy and Sicily with a Short Account of Malta

  • The native "bumboat" is a dugout affair very narrow for its length, and seemingly so cranky that we marvelled at the size of the sail carried.

    A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"

  • Young Brothers has been providing a shipping lifeline to our islands for more than 100 years, ever since our founders William and Jack Young started a "bumboat" business in 1900.

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  • On Tuesday we took a 'bumboat' trip on the Singapore River down to Merlion Park.

    TravelPod.com Recent Updates

  • There will be parades every day of bumboat floats small boats dressed up as everyday objects from the past, including Chinese wooden clogs.

    Time Off

  • All that remained was to get rid of the importunate bumboat -- men who swarmed round the vessel in their little craft, each looking like a small floating shop.

    The South Pole~ From Madeira to the Barrier

  • There's no wait for a bumboat back, and as we near Changi Village the drizzle stops.

    Singapore

  • A bumboat decorated with blinking yellow Christmas lights churns across the black water.

    justinker Diary Entry

  • French: but, egad! it was no more than a bumboat battle, in comparison with some that I have seen.

    The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle

  • There were people gathered onshore as a bumboat approached.

    Call to Treason

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