: any of various ships of Chinese waters with bluff lines, a high poop and overhanging stem, little or no keel, high pole masts, and a deep rudder
Illustration of JUNK
Origin of JUNK
Portuguese junco, from Javanese joṅ
First Known Use: 1609
Modern junk with traditional matting sails and a European-type jib—BBC Hulton Picture Library
Classic Chinese sailing vessel of ancient unknown origin, still in wide use. High-sterned, with a projecting bow, the junk carries up to five masts on which are set square sails consisting of panels of linen or matting flattened by bamboo strips. Each sail can be spread or closed at a pull, like a venetian blind. The massive rudder takes the place of a keel. Chinese junks were sailing to Indonesian and Indian waters by the early Middle Ages.