One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small boat towed behind a larger vessel.
- ‘He climbed into the cockboat and sat silently waiting, making the coxswain fiddle around nervously.’
- ‘The captain was about to head back to the cockboat when he felt a small hand reaching towards his purse.’
- ‘The United States should act alone, he declared, rather than ‘come in as a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war.’’
Late Middle English: from obsolete cock ‘small boat’ (from Old French coque, based on Latin caudex, codex ‘block of wood’) + boat.
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