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, bottom, craft, watercraft

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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

Private aid boats carried out some 40 percent of the rescue operations in January-April 2018 for migrants disembarked in Italian ports, including those first rescued by military and merchant vessels and later transferred to the aid groups’ ships. Frances D’emilio,, "UN: June saw ‘exceptional’ rate of deaths in sea off Libya," 6 July 2018 For example, an armed Osprey would be better positioned to prevent or stop swarming small boat attack wherein enemy surface vessels attacked the aircraft. Kris Osborn, Fox News, "Marine Corps arms Osprey with rockets and missiles - adds assault missions," 6 July 2018 At the height of the piracy scourge off the coast of Somalia almost a decade ago, the average ransom to free a crew and vessel was, by one tally, $3.5m. The Economist, "A new approach to Somali pirates frees more hostages," 28 June 2018 There is only so much space, landside and wet-side, where vehicles and vessels can wait. Georgina Voss, The Atlantic, "Brexit Could Cripple Britain’s Ports," 20 June 2018 Panga boats are fishing vessels that tend to be about 20 feet long and often are powered by outboard motors. Sonali Kohli,, "Fishing boat comes ashore at Crystal Cove; 4 men found as authorities search for other possible occupants," 19 June 2018 Spotting an apparently lazy local fisherman resting in his boat, the visitor asks impatiently why the man doesn’t spend more time fishing, catching more, eventually building a lucrative multi-vessel business. Brian O’connor, Time, "Why Doing Nothing Is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do," 15 June 2018 The just over 1,000-foot-long, 158-foot-wide at the pool decks, 133,500-gross-ton vessel will spend the summer sailing out of New York until arriving to Florida in September for year-round voyages., "From fun to good deeds, Carnival has children in mind," 15 June 2018 So did the Harbor Police Department, which supplies the drug to officers on vehicles and vessels. David Hernandez,, "Use of drug that reverses overdoses to expand to police, school campuses," 11 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

3 Nov 2018

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

: 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

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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