A sailor is someone who works on a boat or ship — either for fun, a job, or while serving in the navy. If you want to be a sailor, it's good to start by learning to swim.

If you work on a cargo ship or help to pilot a schooner in the summer, you can call yourself a sailor. You're also a sailor if you learn how to sail a small boat around a lake. Even though the boats that sailors work on don't necessarily have sails, that's where the word comes from — the verb sail. Before sailor was coined in the 15th century, people used mariner and seaman.

Definitions of sailor

n any member of a ship's crew

Alexander Selcraig
Scottish sailor who was put ashore on a deserted island off the coast of Chile for five years (providing the basis for Daniel Defoe's novel about Robinson Crusoe) (1676-1721)
Sir John Hawkins
English privateer involved in the slave trade; later helped build the fleet that in 1588 defeated the Spanish Armada (1532-1595)
Captain Kidd
Scottish sea captain who was hired to protect British shipping in the Indian Ocean and then was accused of piracy and hanged (1645-1701)
show 14 types...
hide 14 types...
a member of the crew of a ship
an East Indian sailor
Jack, Jack-tar, gob, mariner, old salt, sea dog, seafarer, seaman, tar
a man who serves as a sailor
water dog, water rat
a person who enjoys being in or on the water
yachtsman, yachtswoman
a person who owns or sails a yacht
able seaman, able-bodied seaman
a seaman in the merchant marine; trained in special skills
bo's'n, bo'sun, boatswain, bos'n, bosun
a petty officer on a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen
deckhand, roustabout
a member of a ship's crew who performs manual labor
helmsman, steerer, steersman
the person who steers a ship
bargee, bargeman, lighterman
someone who operates a barge
officer, ship's officer
a person authorized to serve in a position of authority on a vessel
a person qualified to guide ships through difficult waters going into or out of a harbor
sea lawyer
an argumentative and contentious seaman
a seaman who works on a ship that hunts whales
Type of:
skilled worker, skilled workman, trained worker
a worker who has acquired special skills

n a serviceman in the navy

bluejacket, navy man, sailor boy
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
a member of a coastguard
a member of a Naval Special Warfare unit who is trained for unconventional warfare
someone receiving intensive training for a naval technical rating
a member of the crew of a submarine
Type of:
man, military man, military personnel, serviceman
someone who serves in the armed forces; a member of a military force

n a stiff hat made of straw with a flat crown

Panama, Panama hat, boater, leghorn, skimmer, straw hat
Type of:
chapeau, hat, lid
headdress that protects the head from bad weather; has shaped crown and usually a brim

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.