Definitions

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

  • n. A floating structure, such as a flatbottom boat, that is used to support a bridge.
  • n. A floating structure serving as a dock.
  • n. A float on a seaplane.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flat-bottomed boat used as a support for a temporary bridge.
  • n. A floating structure supporting a bridge or dock.
  • n. A box used to raise a sunken vessel.
  • n. A float of a seaplane.
  • n. A card game in which the object is to obtain cards whose value adds up to, or nearly to, 21 but not exceed it.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A wooden flat-bottomed boat, a metallic cylinder, or a frame covered with canvas, India rubber, etc., forming a portable float, used in building bridges quickly for the passage of troops.
  • n. A low, flat vessel, resembling a barge, furnished with cranes, capstans, and other machinery, used in careening ships, raising weights, drawing piles, etc., chiefly in the Mediterranean; a lighter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In milit engin., a flat-bottomed boat, or any light framework or floating structure, used in the construction of a temporary bridge over a river.
  • n. Nautical, a lighter; a low flat vessel resembling a barge, furnished with cranes, capstans, and other machinery, used in careening ships, chiefly in the Mediterranean.
  • n. In hydraulic engineering: A water-tight structure or frame placed beneath a submerged vessel and then filled with air to assist in refloating the vessel.
  • n. A water-tight structure which is sunk by filling with water and raised by pumping it out, used to close a sluiceway or entrance to a dock. Also spelled ponton.
  • n. In anatomy, a loop or knuckle of the small intestine: so called from the way it appears to float in the abdominal cavity. See the quotation under mesentery.
  • n. In brewing, one of the cleansing-rounds or cleansing-squares used for clarifying ale.
  • n. Same as catamaran, 4.

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

  • n. a float supporting a seaplane
  • n. (nautical) a floating structure (as a flat-bottomed boat) that serves as a dock or to support a bridge

Etymologies

French ponton, from Old French, from Latin pontō, pontōn-, floating bridge, from pōns, pont-, bridge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French ponton, from Latin ponto (‘ferryboat’), from pons (‘bridge’). (Wiktionary)
Probably from vingt-un, an obsolete variant of vingt-et-un, from French, literally ‘twenty-one’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The party boat is what we called the pontoon boat.

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  • It could very well have been "pontoon" on a different day.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • Other games are "crown and anchor", which is a dice game, and "pontoon", which is a card game similar to "twenty-one" or "seven and a half."

    A Yankee in the Trenches

  • So I turn to the "pontoon," a composite dish containing everything in the world which is edible and savoury, and I ask the Cook-Sergeant why we cannot get that sort of thing in peace time, pay what we will.

    Punch or the London Charivari, Vol. 147, September 23, 1914

  • Huge industrial cranes lifted the 120-year-old vessel from the slipway on Lowestoft's north quay on to the 50m long pontoon which is going to support the ship for years to come.

    EDP24 News

  • With the first new post-war cars, the 1947 Studebaker shows trends that would shape the era: the "pontoon" all-enveloping body restrained by functionally unnecessary vestigial rear "fenders" and a bright accent line where the running board used to be.

    The Truth About Cars

  • To that end, it wears husky, squared-off sheet metal, an upright roof, and creased "pontoon" fenders similar to those on the new GLK crossover ( "a new Mercedes schtick," offers design editor Robert Cumberford).

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  • Yes | No | Report from countitandone wrote 25 weeks 4 days ago oh yeah ~ wearing my beige crocs while on the water (pontoon) has made an uncomfortable task (water skeeter fins) comfortable.

    A Big Croc of...

  • From a distance ferries and a pontoon could be seen shuttling survivors, in bright orange life vests, to the forested island used by the ruling Labor Party for political functions, camping and celebrations.

    Survivors return to Norway's Utoya Island

  • His motorcycle is parked in one corner and our pontoon and fishing gear in the other.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

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