ves·​sel | \ ˈve-səl How to pronounce vessel (audio) \

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

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Synonyms for vessel


boat, keel, ship

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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

Global competition and unforgiving maritime economics have painted the business into a corner, however, and there’s little demand for the expensive cargo vessels that can be built at the shipyard. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Amazon China Powers Down; Balance in Warehousing; Shipbuilding on Idle," 18 Apr. 2019 Spearhead-class EPFs are 338 foot long catamaran vessels displacing 2,500 tons. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Wants a New 'Ambulance Ship' to Treat War Wounded," 26 Mar. 2019 The vessel placed under sanctions on Friday is Despina Andrianna, a crude oil tanker that delivered oil from Venezuela to Cuba during February and March, according to a statement from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "U.S. Places Sanctions on Vessel, Companies for Delivering Venezuelan Oil to Cuba," 5 Apr. 2019 The Wagner Manufacturing Company’s Magnalite kettle was never meant to be merely a vessel for boiling water; it was created to seduce you. Ruth Reichl, Town & Country, "The Magnalite Tea Kettle Is the Design World's Favorite Kitchen Gadget," 14 Mar. 2019 Go Searcher used to accompany these drone ships when they were tugged back to shore as a support vessel. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX’s helipad-equipped boat will bring astronauts safely home," 5 Nov. 2018 The authors of the ICM report analyzed this pressure by examining records on the Catalonian fishing fleet between 1900 and 2013 and then narrowing that to trawling vessels and landings in Palamós and its neighboring community of Blanes. Wendy Mitman Clarke, Smithsonian, "How a Fallback to Historic Traditions Might Save Catalonia’s Red Shrimp Fishery," 5 July 2018 On Thursday, about 92 miles west of Japan, the Run Da was turned over to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel to be escorted back to China for prosecution. Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska-based Coast Guard cutter detains Chinese-flagged vessel for suspected illegal fishing," 23 June 2018 Ports from Corpus Christi to Texas City, Texas, were closed to incoming vessels. Andrea Leinfelder, Houston Chronicle, "Tight squeeze: Supersized crude carrier calls on Texas City port," 22 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near vessel





vessel element

vessel ton


Statistics for vessel

Last Updated

5 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vessel

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

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More Definitions for vessel



English Language Learners Definition of vessel

formal : a ship or large boat
technical : a vein or artery that carries blood through the body
somewhat old-fashioned : a hollow container for holding liquids


ves·​sel | \ ˈve-səl How to pronounce vessel (audio) \

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 How to pronounce vessel (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on vessel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vessel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vessel

Spanish Central: Translation of vessel

Nglish: Translation of vessel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vessel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about vessel

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).


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