One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A sailboat with a single mast placed well forward and carrying only one sail.
- ‘For these sailors, catboats offer one of the simplest of all sailing rigs to manage.’
- ‘The Nonsuch is no typical catboat below the waterline, and if you are familiar with the considerable weather helm common to most Cape Cod catboats, you will be pleasantly surprised.’
- ‘The open sea blows huge out there, white circles curling on the crest of waves like eyes that notice momentarily our piece of shore-a rocking catboat, mangroves, an egret hunkered on a post.’
Mid 19th century: perhaps from cat (denoting a type of merchant ship formerly used in the coal and timber trades in NE England) + boat.
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