from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A flatbottom Asian skiff usually propelled by two oars.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boat propelled by two oars.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A Chinese boat from twelve to fifteen feet long, covered with a house, and sometimes used as a permanent habitation on the inland waters.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small boat used on the coasts of China, Japan, and Java, corresponding to the skiff of Europe and America, and propelled with either sculls or a sail. It is sometimes provided with a fore-and-aft roofing of mats, affording shelter and habitation for a family.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an Asian skiff usually propelled by two oars


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Chinese (Cantonese) saam-paán, equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) sān, three + bacaron.gifn, board.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Sinitic 舢舨 (shānbǎn)


  • But the sampan was already by us and wasn't stopping.

    Tour of Duty

  • The surf, through which it is carried in an open boat, called a sampan lonchore, renders such accidents unavoidable.

    The History of Sumatra Containing An Account Of The Government, Laws, Customs And Manners Of The Native Inhabitants

  • The word "sampan" literally means "three planks" in Cantonese, from the words sam (三, three) and pan (板, plank). [

    Answerbag: Latest Questions in Question Categories

  • From the depot he hurried through the quaint Japanese streets to the harbor, and hired a sampan boatman to put him aboard a certain vessel whose familiar rigging had quickly caught his eye.

    The Lost Poacher

  • And this was one gale of three in the course of those eight days in the sampan.


  • The point is that I was in an open boat, a sampan, on a rocky coast where there were no light-houses and where the tides rip.


  • The next day, when Alf started to go ashore, he found himself surrounded by shouting and gesticulating, though very respectful, sampan men, all extraordinarily anxious to have him for a passenger.

    In Yeddo Bay

  • A dozen sampan men and boys hailed Alf and offered their services.

    In Yeddo Bay

  • And for the rest of the Annie Mine's stay in port, the sampan men refused money at Alf Davis's hand.

    In Yeddo Bay

  • He also said he knew the sampan men to be natural-born robbers, but that so long as they robbed within the law he was powerless.

    In Yeddo Bay


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "The sampan pilot from Siogama to Ishinomaki, the postman galloping from Kyoto to Ogaki, what do they travel but time?" from "Fifty-seven Views of Fujiyama" by Guy Davenport

    January 19, 2010