gal·​le·​on ˈga-lē-ən How to pronounce galleon (audio)
: a heavy square-rigged sailing ship of the 15th to early 18th centuries used for war or commerce especially by the Spanish

Illustration of galleon

Illustration of galleon

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Cocktails flow like the outgoing tide around the darkened Wreck Bar, designed to look like a Spanish galleon resting on the ocean floor. Connie Ogle,, 20 Mar. 2022 After the wreck of a Basque galleon—thought to be the San Juan—was discovered off the coast of Canada, National Geographic wrote about its exploration in 1985. National Geographic, 13 Jan. 2023 In 1976, the Dominican Republic’s Underwater Archaeological Recovery Commission began excavating the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a Spanish galleon designed to carry quicksilver (mercury) that was used in Spain’s gold and silver mines in Mexico. Michael Bawaya, Discover Magazine, 29 Apr. 2015 The galleon left Spain for the Caribbean in March 1622, but sank later that year after it was caught in a hurricane near Florida. Dana Givens, Robb Report, 2 Nov. 2022 From August to December 1654, the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) waited in Cartagena, Colombia, for a cargo of silver that would never arrive. Sean Kingsley, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 July 2022 There, on January 4, 1656, the galleon lost its bearings. Sean Kingsley, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 July 2022 In July 1693, a large Spanish galleon set sail from the Philippines with a full cargo load of Asian luxury goods, including silk, porcelain and beeswax. New York Times, 12 July 2022 Last month, a team of maritime archaeologists painstakingly recovered more than a dozen timbers from sea caves along the coast that researchers said were almost certainly pieces of the galleon that disappeared, the Santo Cristo de Burgos. New York Times, 12 July 2022 See More

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

Word History


probably borrowed from Italian galeone, galione (later reinforced by Spanish galeón, probably borrowed from Italian), from galea galley + -one, augmentative suffix

First Known Use

1529, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of galleon was in 1529

Dictionary Entries Near galleon

Cite this Entry

“Galleon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


gal·​le·​on ˈgal-ē-ən How to pronounce galleon (audio)
: a large sailing ship with square sails used from the 1400s to the 1700s especially by the Spanish

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