a ship's warrant officer or petty officer in charge of the deck crew, the rigging, anchors, boats, etc.
Origin of boatswainMiddle English boteswayne ; from Old English batswegen ; from bat, boat + an unverified form swegen, servant ; from or akin to Old Norse sveinn: see swain
also bo's'n or bos'n or bo·sun
A warrant officer or petty officer in charge of a ship's rigging, anchors, cables, and deck crew.
Origin of boatswainMiddle English botswein : bot, boat; see boat + swein, mate; see swain. Usage Note: The word boatswain is pronounced as a single word with two syllables (b&omacron;′s&schwa;n). People with sea legs have a long tradition of spelling the word as bosun, bo's'n, and bos'n to reflect the salty pronunciation. This of course has not prevented landlubbers from using the incorrect two-word pronunciation (b&omacron;t′swan′). Many other nautical words have similarly tricky shipboard pronunciations, including bowline, pronounced (b&omacron;′l&ibreve;n); forecastle, pronounced (f&omacron;k′s&schwa;l) and sometimes spelled fo'c's'le; gunwale, pronounced (gŭn′&schwa;l) and also sometimes spelled gunnel; mainsail, pronounced (man′s&schwa;l); and topgallant, pronounced (t&schwa;-găl′&schwa;nt). With the exception of gunwale, however, all of these terms can be correctly pronounced as if they were two words.