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small, open nautical vessel propelled by sail, oar, pole, paddle, or motor. The use of the term boat for larger vessels, although common, is somewhat improper, but the line between boats and ships is not easy to draw. A number of special types of boat are generally referred to by their individual names rather than by the generic term, e.g., the canoecanoe
, long, narrow watercraft with sharp ends originally used by most peoples. It is usually propelled by means of paddles, although sails and, more recently, outboard motors are also used.
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, the kayakkayak
, Eskimo canoe, originally made of sealskin stretched over a framework of whalebone or driftwood. It is completely covered except for the opening in which the paddler sits.
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 (Eskimo decked canoe), and the umiak (Eskimo open boat). Simple dugouts, made from hollowed-out logs, have been known since prehistoric times to all peoples dwelling on waterways. The ancient Egyptians used boats made of acacia wood and held together with pegs. Modern wooden boats are built in four ways: with fore-and-aft planks laid with their edges flush (carvel-built); with fore-and-aft planks laid with overlapping edges (clinker-built); with inner and outer layers of planks running diagonally in opposite directions; and with planking consisting of large sheets of plywood. Many boats, however, are now made of molded fiberglass or of aluminum. Primitive boats in many parts of the world are stabilized by an outrigger—a parallel float attached by projecting arms. The varieties of boats in modern use are almost infinite. The Chinese junk, with high poop and overhanging bow, is large enough to be classified as a ship; the junk, together with the sampan (a wide, flat-bottomed skiff, often having a mat-covered cabin with living quarters), is a familiar sight in the rivers and coastal waters of East Asia. The lateen-rigged dhow, in which energetic Arab merchants of the Middle Ages plied their trade along all the shores of S Asia and E Africa, is still in use today. A familiar local craft on the Mediterranean is the flat-bottomed, canoelike, pole-driven gondola of the Venetian canals. A typical Mediterranean vessel of ancient times was the galleygalley,
long, narrow vessel widely used in ancient and medieval times, propelled principally by oars but also fitted with sails. The earliest type was sometimes 150 ft (46 m) long with 50 oars.
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, usually propelled by oars. Because the northern seas were stormier, the Viking boats, which the Norsemen were building by the 5th cent. A.D., were more seaworthy; they were believed to be the first clinker-built boats. Deckless or half-decked, with elevated bow and stern, these early boats took the Norsemen to all the coasts of Europe and across the Atlantic. The later rugged whaleboat was developed from the Viking type of construction and came to be used for numerous purposes. The fishing boats of the North and Baltic seas, also built on Viking principles, are roughly similar to whaleboats. Another important fishing boat is the dory, a small, versatile, flat-bottomed craft easily transported on shipboard and used in the entire N Atlantic.


For bibliography, see separate articles on various types of boats.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a small river rowing vessel. Boats sometimes have a sail or engine (motorboats). In modern-day water transportation, boats are used only for small-scale commercial fishing or for recreation. Ships of several naval classes are called boats, such as gunboats and U-boats.



(Russian, shliupka), an open vessel with a wooden, metal, or plastic hull. Boats may be propelled by oars or powered by internal-combustion engines; most rowboats also have rigging with removable masts. Boats are of several types, including naval ship’s boats, lifeboats and working boats for merchant ships, lifeboats for lake and river vessels, boats used by shore rescue stations, and sports boats. Boats range in length from less than 3 m for a sculler to more than 11.5m for the 22-oar naval launch.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a boat?

See Ship.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


A platinum or ceramic vessel for holding a substance for analysis by combustion.
(naval architecture)
A small watercraft.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a small vessel propelled by oars, paddle, sails, or motor for travelling, transporting goods, etc., esp one that can be carried aboard a larger vessel
2. (not in technical use) another word for ship
3. a small boat-shaped container for incense, used in some Christian churches
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


As mentioned in all relevant entries, bodies of water represent your unconscious, your emotions, and your accumulated soul experiences. Depending on the content of the dream, several different interpretations could be made. The boat in your dream could represent you and the manner you navigate through your emotions. It could symbolize the voyage of your life, an adventure and exploration of your unconscious, or a connection to the people in your dream by pointing out something that all of you have in common (“in the same boat” ). When interpreting this dream, consider the kind of voyage and the type of boat. Superstitionbased dream interpretation books say that if the voyage is calm, you should go forward with your plans. However, if it is a very stormy voyage, get ready for an emotional upset (or challenge).
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
"Why we've got to make the best of the first of it and run down to our boats before our canvas is ripped out of us.
"By the last guns the boats were bearing away slightly to the south'ard."
And they seemed hurt at what they evidently regarded as a mean and ungrateful act on the part of the boat.
I bet they did not give that boat another chance for a week.
The boats were strung along at unequal distances apart, and we saw the four nearest ones bunching together.
When the four boats were near enough together for a man to pass from one to another, one Greek from each of three got into the nearest boat to us, taking his rifle with him.
At length I told them there would be nothing done, in my opinion, till night; and then, if they did not return to the boat, perhaps we might find a way to get between them and the shore, and so might use some stratagem with them in the boat to get them on shore.
He dipped his hand in the water over the boat's gunwale, and said, smiling with that softened air upon him which was not new to me:
Nothing, in all probability, but the proximity of the American trading post, kept these land pirates from making a good prize of the bull boat and all its contents.
My boat's crew, leaning over the looms of their oars, stared and listened as if at the play.
Always watching his face, the girl instantly answered to the action in her sculling; presently the boat swung round, quivered as from a sudden jerk, and the upper half of the man was stretched out over the stern.
A few inches at a time, resting in between, he dragged him over the ground and up a broken rubble of ice to the side of the boat. But into the boat he could not get him.