noun (1)
\ ˈbrig How to pronounce brig (audio) \

Definition of brig

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a 2-masted square-rigged ship


noun (2)

Definition of brig (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a place (as on a ship) for temporary confinement of offenders in the U.S. Navy

Definition of brig (Entry 3 of 3)

Illustration of brig

Illustration of brig

Noun (1)

In the meaning defined above

Did You Know?

A two-masted sailing ship with square rigging on both masts is called a brig. Brigs were both naval and merchant (mercantile) vessels. As merchantmen, they often followed coastal trading routes. However, ocean voyages were not uncommon, and some were even used for whaling and sealing. Naval brigs carried 10–20 guns on a single deck. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they served as couriers for battle fl eets and as training vessels for cadets. Brigs of the early US Navy won distinction on the Great Lakes in the War of 1812. Because square rigging required a large crew, merchant brigs became uneconomical, and in the 19th century they began to give way to vessels such as the schooner and the bark.

First Known Use of brig

Noun (1)

1712, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for brig

Noun (1)

short for brigantine

Noun (2)

probably from brig entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brig

Statistics for brig

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brig

The first known use of brig was in 1712

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brig


\ ˈbrig How to pronounce brig (audio) \

Kids Definition of brig

: a square-rigged sailing ship with two masts


\ ˈbrig How to pronounce brig (audio) \

Legal Definition of brig

1 : a place (as on a ship) for temporary confinement of offenders in the United States Navy
2 : a military prison

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brig

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brig

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brig

Spanish Central: Translation of brig

Nglish: Translation of brig for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about brig

Comments on brig

What made you want to look up brig? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!