1 of 3

noun (1)

: a 2-masted square-rigged ship

Illustration of brig

Illustration of brig


2 of 3

noun (2)

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


3 of 3


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.

Examples of brig in a Sentence

Noun (2) the captain ordered that the prisoner be thrown into the brig immediately
Recent Examples on the Web
Abandoning all sense of order or control, a few of the sailors careened through the brig, demanding liquor from the frightened passengers. Eric Jay Dolin, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 May 2024 On the defense’s side: Lieutenant Barney Greenwald (Jason Clarke), who’s claiming that Maryk shouldn’t be thrown in the brig because the man at the helm of the ship had lost his marbles, and thus was endangering the lives of the entire crew. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 7 Oct. 2023 Scheller was being held in pre-trial confinement at the brig at Camp Lejeune. David Martin, CBS News, 6 Oct. 2021 The Navy booked Mays into the brig on Aug. 20, 2020. Megan Rose, ProPublica, 23 Sep. 2022 Mays, who was arrested Aug. 20, 2020, and placed in confinement, was released from the brig in October 2020 as NCIS pivoted to this second suspect, according to Gary Barthel, who was Mays’ civilian attorney at the time. Andrew Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Sep. 2022 Is there a brig aboard a submarine? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 4 Jan. 2022 According to the Marine Corps, Willy Joseph Cancel Jr. spent nearly four years in the Marine Corps and received a bad conduct discharge, leaving the service as a private in November after serving time in the brig for an undisclosed criminal offense. New York Times, 29 Apr. 2022 He is currently being held in the brig. David Martin, CBS News, 29 Sep. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'brig.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

short for brigantine

Noun (2)

probably from brig entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1712, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of brig was in 1712

Dictionary Entries Near brig

Cite this Entry

“Brig.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a square-rigged sailing ship with two masts


2 of 2 noun
: a place (as on a ship) for temporary imprisonment of offenders in the U.S. Navy

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on brig

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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