ves·sel | \ ˈve-səl \

Definition of vessel 

1a : a container (such as a cask, bottle, kettle, cup, or bowl) for holding something

b : a person into whom some quality (such as grace) is infused a child of light, a true vessel of the Lord —H. J. Laski

2 : a watercraft bigger than a rowboat especially : ship sense 1

3a : a tube or canal (such as an artery) in which a body fluid is contained and conveyed or circulated

b : a conducting tube in the xylem of a vascular plant formed by the fusion and loss of end walls of a series of cells

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for vessel


boat, bottom, craft, watercraft

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of vessel in a Sentence

a new ocean liner that claims to be the largest commercial vessel afloat any vessel that is buoyant and steerable can be entered in the annual race down the river

Recent Examples on the Web

Edward is a vessel of confused longing, anxious to do the right thing but curtailed by his own frustration and subterranean anger. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "On Chesil Beach Is a Moving Tale of Love Without Lust," 17 May 2018 People are such faulty vessels of memory and stories; and books are so reliable and sturdy, and libraries preserve books and hold them forever. Constance Grady, Vox, "Jane Austen, authority on relationship intricacies, has been cited in 27 legal decisions," 28 Apr. 2018 The American attacks will come from several directions, using more than 200 missiles fired from naval vessels and groups of aircraft. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "How a Syrian Airstrike Got Help From Space," 24 Apr. 2018 The trackers found that 70,000 vessels of the global fishing fleet traveled nearly 286 million miles in 2016 – equivalent to traveling to the moon and back 600 times. Laine Welch, Anchorage Daily News, "Marketing campaign aims to convince consumers that ‘ugly’ crabs can be just as tasty," 20 Mar. 2018 The Clarendon Hills Park District Lions Park Pool Cardboard Boat Regatta is set for Saturday, Aug. 4, and racers should show up with their vessels already constructed or pretty near finished. Sara Clarkson,, "Clarkson: Feeling lost, but found, in pool or air conditioning this stifling summer," 5 July 2018 Of those three, Ding was the only recipient who could move his vessels through the Shanghai port for export to the United States, said Liu Jihua, owner of Hunan Hongguang Logistics, a Liuyang company that specializes in shipping to Southeast Asia. Damian Paletta And Emily Rauhala,, "How one Chinese businessman became the largest fireworks supplier in the U.S.," 3 July 2018 This bottle is ready to become your everyday, do-everything vessel. The Editors, Outside Online, "All Hydro Flask Products Are 25% Off Right Now," 26 June 2018 Lisi, a 42-year-old dive instructor in Key West, is facing misdemeanor charges for abandoning his vessel on the beach. Susannah Bryan,, "Hollywood fumes as sailboat remains stuck for weeks on beach," 6 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of vessel

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for vessel

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin vascellum, diminutive of Latin vas vase, vessel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vessel

Dictionary Entries near vessel





vessel element

vessel ton


Statistics for vessel

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vessel

The first known use of vessel was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vessel



English Language Learners Definition of vessel

: a ship or large boat

: a vein or artery that carries blood through the body

: a hollow container for holding liquids


ves·sel | \ ˈve-səl \

Kids Definition of vessel

1 : a craft larger than a rowboat for navigation of the water

2 : a hollow utensil (as a cup or bowl) for holding something

3 : a tube (as an artery) in which a body fluid is contained and carried or circulated


ves·sel | \ ˈves-əl \

Medical Definition of vessel 

: a tube or canal (as an artery, vein, or lymphatic) in which a body fluid (as blood or lymph) is contained and conveyed or circulated

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on vessel

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


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!