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

  • n. A person who usually steers a ship's boat and has charge of its crew.
  • n. A person in a racing shell who usually directs the rest of the crew.
  • transitive v. To act as coxswain or serve as coxswain for.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In a ship's boat, the helmsman given charge of the boat's crew.
  • n. In a rowing crew, the member who steers the shell and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers.
  • n. The second or third mate of a vessel, in charge of the master's barge.
  • n. A rank or position.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See cockswain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See cockswain.

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

  • n. the helmsman of a ship's boat or a racing crew


Middle English cokswaynne : cok, cockboat; see cockboat + swain, servant; see swain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
cock a boat + swain; hence, the master of a boat. (Wiktionary)



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  • so it's a cocksinship? oh MY

    June 15, 2009

  • This one is pronounced very strange, like "cocks-in". Similarly, "boatswain" is pronounced "bo-sin".

    June 12, 2007

  • College

    June 11, 2007

  • The helmsman of a boat; the person on board ship having permanent charge of a boat and its crew, of which he has command unless a superior officer is present. See also coxswainship, which is just plain weird.

    February 6, 2007