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

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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

At the moment, because there is no decision, the vessels are there. Annabelle Liang, The Seattle Times, "Singapore, Malaysia move to cool airspace and sea disputes," 8 Jan. 2019 The vessels had been operating in the Mediterranean as part of the European Union’s protection of its maritime border. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "U.K. Calls in the Navy to Deter Illegal Migrants Crossing the Channel," 3 Jan. 2019 The passenger who called emergency services reported that the vessel was carrying around 60 people and had run into unspecified trouble. Fox News, "The Latest: Poor conditions at Greek migrant camps slammed," 13 Sep. 2018 Google — and all foreign companies — should remember: The vessel containing a dictatorship’s desire is boundless, never filled, never satisfied. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Instagram’s verification system is useful, fair, and Twitter should copy it," 29 Aug. 2018 The vessel is near the port of Dalian, according to ship-tracking data. Fortune, "China Cancels U.S. Soybean Purchases as Trade War Takes Hold," 6 July 2018 According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the engine on the 40-foot boat exploded at about 9 a.m. when the vessel was off Barraterre island in the Exuma Islands. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "One U.S. tourist dead and others severely injured after Bahamas tour boat exploded," 3 July 2018 At the time, the vessel was making 27 calls in San Diego a year. Lori Weisberg,, "Carnival Cruise Line returning to San Diego after leaving in 2012," 28 June 2018 The vessel was so shaky and the waters so rocky that the women got really sick. Dave Quinn,, "See the First Footage of RHONY's Colombia 'Boat Ride from Hell' in Scary Midseason Trailer," 27 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

10 Feb 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 \

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

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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).


excited commotion or publicity

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