Definition of coxswain in English:



  • 1The person who steers a ship's boat, racing boat, or other boat.

    • ‘As a coxswain, Presacan will be an essential part of her rowing team.’
    • ‘As coxswain, I would steer, control the pace, and act as the eyes of the oarsmen, who were facing backward.’
    • ‘Three heats with the top three boats qualifying for the final left it up to the coxswains to call the race plan.’
    • ‘Under the encouragement of their coxswain, Oliver Blach, they moved up to first, one seat at a time.’
    • ‘He was a Navy assault coxswain aboard the USS Talladega during the Vietnam War.’
    • ‘The coxswain sped his boat further on, arrows and bullets whizzing past their heads.’
    • ‘The boat's coxswain will need to know where you are long before you surface.’
    • ‘The coxswains would rotate as well with only the captains remaining the same.’
    • ‘Even the coxswains seemed taller to me than I am - and I am not exactly short myself.’
    • ‘The sailors and coxswain running the whaleboat pushed off again to help the others towing away the wreckage.’
    • ‘Each of the four participating countries entered thirteen rowers - five women, seven men and a coxswain.’
    • ‘Mr Easter said that previously coxswains had experienced difficulty in ship handling when using the ramp.’
    • ‘The coxswain gets a situation report from the coastguard and picks his crew.’
    • ‘When the tender is safely alongside the ship, climb aboard when the coxswain tells you to.’
    • ‘The coxswain is fitted snugly into the bow end of the boat steering and motivating the crew.’
    • ‘His late father was a coxswain on a boat, his mother a factory worker.’
    • ‘The Navy coxswains boarded their respective Lampreys, and crewmen in the preparation room sealed the main hatches.’
    • ‘The coxswains pushed off into the river and into safety.’
    • ‘It's not often you get to witness a relaxed coxswain.’
    • ‘The coxswain may ask you to swim away from the reef at this time.’
    navigator, helmsman, guide, steersman
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The helmsman and skipper of a lifeboat.
      • ‘The coxswain of the lifeboat said: ‘It started out as a basic tow job, but ended up as a full-scale rescue.’’
      • ‘Former lifeboat coxswain Roland Stork was awarded the MBE for his services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.’
      • ‘Woodward, who retired as coxswain of Bembridge lifeboat in the summer, is also made an MBE.’
      • ‘In the past, lifeboats largely depended on inshore fishermen to serve as coxswains and crew.’
      • ‘Lifeboat coxswain Gary Edwards praised the crew for their heroic work.’
    2. 1.2 The senior petty officer in a small ship or submarine in the Royal Navy.
      • ‘The senior coxswain was thrilled with the honour that commends his service to the Hampshire community.’
      • ‘She eventually rose to coxswain in the Auxiliary and taught their coastal navigation courses.’


Middle English: from obsolete cock (see cockboat) + swain. Compare with boatswain.