frig·​ate | \ ˈfri-gət How to pronounce frigate (audio) \

Definition of frigate

1 : a light boat propelled originally by oars but later by sails
2 : a square-rigged war vessel intermediate between a corvette and a ship of the line
3 : a modern warship that is smaller than a destroyer

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Did You Know?

In the 17th–19th centuries, a frigate was a three-masted, fully rigged sailing ship, often carrying 30–40 guns in all. Smaller and faster than ships of the line (the principal vessels of naval warfare), frigates served as scouts or as escorts protecting merchant convoys; they also cruised the seas as merchant raiders themselves. In World War II, Britain revived the term frigate using it to describe escort ships equipped with sonar and depth charges, and used these ships to guard convoys from submarines. In the postwar decades, the frigate also adopted an antiaircraft role, adding radar and surface-to-air missiles. Modern frigates can sail at a speed of 30 knots and carry a crew of 200.

Examples of frigate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On May 1st a flotilla of two American destroyers, a nuclear submarine, a support ship and a long-range maritime-patrol aircraft, plus a British frigate, practised their sub-hunting skills in the Norwegian Sea. The Economist, "Northern fights NATO is facing up to Russia in the Arctic Circle," 14 May 2020 The contract, announced last week, is for the design and construction of the lead frigate, with an option to buy nine more. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Esper fears pandemic will force Pentagon to make deep cuts to invest in new technology," 5 May 2020 The grouping was joined by a U.S. supply vessel and a UK frigate, the HMS Kent. NBC News, "U.S. Navy sends ships to Russia's Barents Sea for first time since 1980s," 10 Mar. 2020 But four people with knowledge of the incident said that the ship, identified as the missile boat Konarak, was hit and sunk by a missile from the frigate Jamaran by mistake. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, "Iran Naval Accident Is Said to Kill at Least 19 During Exercise," 10 May 2020 The frigate is part of a group of nine NATO ships, known as Standing NATO Maritime Group 2,... Paul Vieira, WSJ, "One Dead, Five Missing After Canadian Helicopter on NATO Mission Crashes Off Greece," 30 Apr. 2020 On September 21, 1987, two AH-6 attack helicopters and one MH-6 Little Bird launched from the frigate USS Jarrett and attacked the Iran Ajr, an Iranian ship, after it was observed laying mines. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why Army Helicopters Are Launching From a Navy Ship," 7 Apr. 2020 Same for air crews aboard the vessel and those on the frigate, according to a report by the Associated Press. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 11-12," 24 Apr. 2020 Amid the heightened tensions, two Russian navy frigates, armed with cruise missiles, sailed through Istanbul en-route from the Black Sea to reinforce a task force in the Mediterranean. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, "Russia denies responsibility after strikes kill at least 33 Turkish troops in Syria," 28 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frigate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of frigate

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for frigate

Middle French, from Old Italian fregata

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Time Traveler for frigate

Time Traveler

The first known use of frigate was in 1583

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Statistics for frigate

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Frigate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for frigate


How to pronounce frigate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frigate

: a small and fast military ship


frig·​ate | \ ˈfri-gət How to pronounce frigate (audio) \

Kids Definition of frigate

1 : a square-rigged warship
2 : a modern warship that is smaller than a destroyer

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