from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A vessel freighted with combustibles and explosives and set adrift, for the purpose of burning or blowing up an enemy's ships, a bridge, or other object.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • The men dwelling on the lower reaches of the river heard the reports of big guns and saw a fire-ship of the Dutch amongst the islands of the estuary.

    Almayer's Folly 2006

  • But England (which never is allowed to do, without hooting and execration, what every other country does with loud applause) — England must rather burn off her right hand than send a fire-ship against the ships full of fire for her houses, her cottages, and churches.

    Springhaven Richard Doddridge 2004

  • Glenarvan and his companions being thus delivered from the voracious SAURIANS, stationed themselves on the branches windward of the conflagration, while the OMBU sailed along like a blazing fire-ship through the dark night, the flames spreading themselves round like sails before the breath of the hurricane.

    In Search of the Castaways 2003

  • Grand preparations for fireworks were being made in this square; I especially remarked a fire-ship, which savoured strongly of Stambul.

    Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah 2003

  • The “Chancellor” under bare poles, was driven, like a gigantic fire-ship with frightful velocity across the raging ocean; her very speed as it were, making common cause with the hurricane to fan the fire that was consuming her.

    The Survivors of the Chancellor 2003

  • So seemed it to me, as I stood at her helm, and for long hours silently guided the way of this fire-ship on the sea.

    Moby Dick; or the Whale 2002

  • Lephi nodded, his eyes returning to the wharfs, and to the shipworks beyond where the superstructure of the first fire-ship in generations rose above the waves.

    The Chaos Balance Modesitt, L. E. 1997

  • Nelson, seeing the manner in which his boats were fired upon when they went to take possession of the prizes, became angry, and said he must either send ashore to have this irregular proceeding stopped, or send a fire-ship and burn them.

    The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson Southey, Robert, 1774-1843 1993

  • Another story tells that after he had finished the ever-famous game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe, which was interrupted by tidings of the Armada, Sir Francis cut up a block of wood, and flung the chips into the sea, when every ship became a fire-ship, and the enemy's fleet was really destroyed because of the

    Devon, Its Moorlands, Streams and Coasts Rosalind Northcote

  • They got back to the fire-ship just a few minutes before it would have been too late to save the animal; and when the dreadful explosion took place, were still so near the floating volcano, that the fragments fell in heaps around them.

    The Book of Three Hundred Anecdotes Historical, Literary, and Humorous—A New Selection Various


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