One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A flat-bottomed boat or hollow metal cylinder used with others to support a temporary bridge or floating landing stage.
- ‘Floating pontoons, with their massing and design, ‘cannot contribute in the same way and constitute an intrusive feature in such a sensitive location’.’
- ‘In the early morning of 11 December, Burnside's engineers began laying pontoon bridges.’
- ‘A floating pontoon bridge links each side of the city but this has been relegated to pedestrian traffic since they built a spectacular motorway road bridge, which now dominates the skyline.’
- ‘The Marines began laying their own pontoon bridge to carry over their heaviest trucks.’
- ‘During a 30-hour river closure, winch wires were being secured to both banks of the river and used to tow the floating pontoon on which the bridge rested.’
- 1.1 A bridge or landing stage supported by pontoons.
- ‘If true, this could persuade the EU to pay for a Hungarian operation to lift the wreckage - and possibly for a high-level bridge to replace the Novi Sad pontoon.’
- ‘The creak of the wooden pontoon was such a sad, lonely sound.’
- ‘We trundled off, hiked up a steep incline of jagged coral, past poisonous trees and cat-sized frogs, and ended up at an unprepossessing wooden pontoon at the edge of a vast lake.’
- ‘He sets up a typewriter on a rickety wooden pontoon and moodily bashes away, staring out over the lake.’
- ‘Other concepts include wind and submarine cars with the latter docking onto floating pontoons.’
- 1.2 A large flat-bottomed barge or lighter equipped with cranes.
- ‘The Port Service's crane toppled as the Able Seaman was lifting a steel workbench from the tray of a semi-trailer on to a pontoon being used for maintenance work on the sail training ship Young Endeavour.’
- ‘As this edition of Navy News was going to press a number of pontoons and moorings were being secured to the seabed around the warship.’
- ‘Aqis spokeswoman Jen O'Reilly said the consignment also included a tug, pontoons, cranes, forklift and anchor.’
- ‘This is a crane that's been designed by Chris Mitchell, what he calls an access dinghy system, and this is the crane that he uses off the pontoons, yes.’
- 1.3 Either of the floats fitted to an aircraft to enable it to land on water.
- ‘The Kingfisher landed safely in the rough water and taxied over to Kanze, who reached up to grasp a wing pontoon.’
- ‘Optional inflatable pontoons can be fitted for emergency deployment on water.’
- ‘Up to that point, the aircraft flew with pontoons for water landings, but those were replaced by wheels for the flight across the Asian subcontinent and thence to France and the United Kingdom.’
- ‘While waiting for help to arrive, the crew haggled with missionary priests for wine, rice and yams, and struggled to keep curious natives off the pontoons used for water landings.’
- ‘With drag from pontoons and floats removed, the OS2Us had greater speed and could carry heavier loads of bombs.’
Late 17th century: from French ponton, from Latin ponto, ponton-, from pons, pont- ‘bridge’.
1The card game blackjack or vingt-et-un.
- ‘These are useful in many ways, not least as a betting tokens for playing pontoon, we've found!’
- ‘Before Mrs Bs arrived, I was playing pontoon with Kerstie.’
- ‘In blackjack, or pontoon as it is known in Britain, the aim is to get a hand that totals 21, or as near 21 as possible without going over.’
- 1.1 A hand of two cards totaling 21 in the card game pontoon.
- ‘If no one had a Pontoon, the dealer adds all the used cards to the bottom of the pack and without shuffling deals a new hand.’
- ‘If the banker does not have a pontoon then, beginning with the player to dealer's left and continuing clockwise, the players each have a turn to try to improve their hand if they wish by acquiring extra cards.’
Early 20th century: probably an alteration of vingt-et-un ‘twenty-one’.
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