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  • adjective idiomatic superb, exceptional; of the best sort; very high quality


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  • Beginning in the 16th century and until steam-powered ships took over, British naval ships were rated according to the number of heavy cannon they carried. A ship of 100 or more guns was a First Rate line-of-battle ship. Second rates carried 90 to 98 guns; Third Rates, 64 to 89 guns; Fourth Rates, 50 to 60 guns. Frigates carrying 20 to 48 guns were fifth and sixth rated. The term "first rate" is now used to imply excellence.

    January 8, 2008

  • Wow, I bet that's where "ship of the line" comes from too.

    January 8, 2008

  • I'd imagine so. I like that phrase--it has a nice "roll" to it.

    January 8, 2008