BARGE (Med. Lat. barca, possibly connected with Lat. baris, Gr. /3apis, a boat used on the Nile), formerly a small sailing vessel, but now generally a flat-bottomed boat used for carrying goods on inland navigations. On canals barges are usually towed, but are sometimes fitted with some kind of engine; the men in charge of them are known as bargees. On tidal rivers barges are often provided with masts and sails ("sailing barges"), or in default of being towed, they drift with the current, guided by a long oar or oars ("dumb-barges"). Barges used for unloading, or loading, the cargo of ships in harbours are sometimes called "lighters" (from the verb "to light"= to relieve of a load). A state barge was a heavy, often highly ornamented vessel used for carrying passengers on occasions of state ceremonials. The college barges at Oxford are houseboats moored in the river for the use of members of the college rowing clubs. In New England the word barge frequently means a vehicle, usually covered, with seats down the side, used for picnic parties or the conveyance of passengers to or from piers or railway stations.
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