Definition of merchantman in US English:



  • A ship used in commerce; a vessel of the merchant marine.

    • ‘These were flat-bottomed craft with a shallow draft, and were lowered from the davits of larger troop-carrying merchantmen, like lifeboats.’
    • ‘More than 6,000 ships, warships, merchantmen, landing craft and barges, sailed across the channel in marked lanes cleared by minesweepers.’
    • ‘The ships were going to Wreck Reef off the Barrier Reef to rescue the ship's companies of HMS Porpoise and the merchantman Cato.’
    • ‘But New England had had a fright, and next year, a motley force of armed merchantmen and fishing vessels set out from Boston to capture Louisbourg.’
    • ‘During her first month in the Gulf, Northumberland has spent 75 per cent of the time at sea, and has boarded ships ranging in size from small merchantmen to large cargo ships.’
    • ‘These operations were planned to concentrate on striking warships versus logistical support ships and merchantmen.’
    • ‘He shouted fresh commands and the oarsmen went to work again, backing the ship away from the sinking merchantman.’
    • ‘The flotilla of 58 Little Ships made a trouble-free crossing of the busy traffic separation lanes, as merchantmen gave way or altered course as a mark of respect.’
    • ‘The commotion on the two ships' decks was incredible as pirates streamed onto the merchantmen and sailors streamed onto the Emerald Lady.’
    • ‘The first raid failed to destroy the docks, but X24 succeeded in despatching a merchantman.’
    • ‘This reflects an increasingly clear division after about 1500 between the builders of great decked ships, the warships and merchantmen, and the builders of undecked boats - fishing vessels, barges and riverboats.’
    • ‘The captain of a submarine is shown observing through the periscope a broken-backed merchantman, torpedoed fair amidships and sinking by the bow, with the complacent rhyme.’
    • ‘More than 50 British warships, survey vessels, training ships and auxiliaries will be joined by more than 120 foreign warships, merchantmen and tall ships in a review formation at Spithead.’
    • ‘Off Cowes and Portsmouth these mighty vessels lay at anchor along with attendant merchantmen and store ships.’
    • ‘A commander was appointed for the campaign, after which most of the vessels, being converted merchantmen, returned to their home ports.’
    • ‘This picturesque town has been a haven for ships - merchantmen, naval vessels, and buccaneer galleons - since the 1600s.’
    • ‘They live happily for some years, until Enoch is compelled through temporary adversity to go as boatswain in a merchantman.’
    • ‘A crewman pretending to be the merchantman's captain could be put in front of the video link, so the warship's CO can certify or disprove who he is.’
    • ‘Whenever the Brazilian fleets arrive on the Tagus, British navy vessels and merchantmen already lie in wait, a continual irritant to Portuguese port authorities.’
    • ‘Whitehall estimates 95,000 RN personnel alone served in the frozen theatre, and there could have been a similar number of merchantmen involved.’