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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for vessel


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 Using a few simple calculations, researchers can predict the height and direction of incoming waves without relying on expensive, and occasionally unreliable, wave radar equipment on the vessel itself. Sarah Wells, Popular Mechanics, 8 Sep. 2021 Service is exceptional, food is top-notch and getting around and off and on the vessel is a snap. Washington Post, 13 Aug. 2021 People on each vessel would have to learn navigation and how to drive. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2021 The Coast Guard was looking for the owner of the 50-foot boat Relentless, who lives on the vessel and docks it in the Oceanside Harbor. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 July 2021 For those who want a more formal experience on a larger vessel, both the Red & White Fleet and Blue & Gold Fleet are again running this summer with a variety of tours. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 July 2021 During the chase, which occurred in international waters under Malta's search and rescue responsibility, men in uniform on the Libyan vessel can be seen firing at least two times toward the boat, with bullets hitting water close to the boat. Renata Brito, Star Tribune, 1 July 2021 The fire broke out on the vessel on May 20 when it was anchored about 9.5 nautical miles northwest of Colombo and waiting to enter the port. NBC News, 17 June 2021 Relax and enjoy the seas around Los Cabos on a vessel from catamaran to sailboat or yacht. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 14 June 2021

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

Time Traveler for vessel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near vessel



vessel element

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for vessel

Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vessel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 : blood vessel
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on vessel

Nglish: Translation of vessel for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!