Definition of coxswain in English:



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

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


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