One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A large mechanically operated structure used instead of a lock for transferring canal boats from one level to another.
2US Originally and chiefly US. An act of transporting people or supplies by boat, especially an act of transporting refugees in small boats when official modes of transport are blocked.
with object To transport (a person) as part of a boatlift.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Mechanics' Magazine. From boat + lift<br>1980s; earliest use found in The Christian Science Monitor. From boatlift.
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