car·​a·​vel ˈker-ə-ˌvel How to pronounce caravel (audio)
: any of several sailing ships
specifically : a small 15th and 16th century ship that has broad bows, high narrow poop, and usually three masts with lateen or both square and lateen sails

Illustration of caravel

Illustration of caravel

Examples of caravel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But what of those murals glorifying European colonization, with Christopher Columbus sweeping down from the sky in a caravel to find half-naked Native Americans? New York Times, 25 May 2021 More than that, though, the Portuguese were carrying on their wooden caravels an entirely unfamiliar culture from those the Chinese had previously met. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 6 June 2020 Spanish caravels and a viking longboat, a moving sidewalk, the first Ferris wheel — along with people and cultures from around the globe — all turned Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance into the world’s museum. Charles J. Johnson,, 28 June 2019 In Europe, however, small and scrappy Portugal did build small ships called caravels that could explore the African coast and later the Atlantic Ocean. Lee Roop,, 14 Mar. 2018 This caravel gave me a strange sense of peace and the feeling that there is always a story to tell, a place where to return. Andrew Katz,, 17 July 2017

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

Word History


Middle French caravelle, from Old Portuguese caravela

First Known Use

1527, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of caravel was in 1527

Dictionary Entries Near caravel

Cite this Entry

“Caravel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


car·​a·​vel ˈkar-ə-ˌvel How to pronounce caravel (audio)
: a small 15th and 16th century ship with a broad bow, a high stern, and usually three masts

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