1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Coxswain

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COXSWAIN (properly “cockswain,” and pronounced cox’n, usually shortened to “cox”; from “cock,” a small boat, and swain, a servant), in the navy, a petty officer in charge of a ship’s boat and its crew, who steers; the coxswain of the captain’s gig takes a special rank among petty officers. In the National Lifeboat Institution of Great Britain the “coxswain” is a paid permanent official on each station, who has charge of the lifeboat and house, is responsible for its care, and steers and takes command when afloat. The word is also used, generally, of any one who steers a boat.