from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small three-masted Mediterranean vessel with both square and lateen sails.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A small three-masted vessel, formerly much used by the Algerine corsairs, and now in use to some extent in Mediterranean commerce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Naut.) A small three-masted vessel, with projecting bow stern and convex decks, used in the Mediterranean for transporting merchandise, etc. It carries large square sails, or both. Xebecs were formerly armed and used by corsairs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small, three-masted Mediterranean transport ship


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French chebec, probably from Catalan xabec, from Arabic šabbāk, from šabaka, to entwine, fasten; see śbk in Semitic roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Either from French chébec, from Spanish xabeque (modern jabeque) or Catalan xabec, ultimately from Arabic شبّاك (šabbāk, "small warship, fishing boat").


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  • A small, three-masted vessel of the Mediterranean, formerly much used by corsairs, now employed to some extent in commerce. Also spelled chebeck, zebec, and zebeck.

    February 11, 2008

  • "'Mr Powell and Mr Comfrey are to go straight to Malta in that storeship over there.'

    "'The xebec, or the polacre?'

    'The vessel to the right,' said Graham somewhat testily. 'The vessel that is so busy, with sailors creeping up the masts.'"

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 80

    February 11, 2008

  • I'm loving these O'Brian quotes, chained_bear. :-)

    February 11, 2008

  • Yeah...thanks... I'm trying very hard not to give away plot points and stuff in them, in case anyone hasn't read them and wants to.

    February 11, 2008

  • So far, I haven't a clue. :-)

    February 11, 2008

  • "The steersmen steer the xebecs between steep, sheer clefts, where reefs prevent sheltered berth; there, the tempests whelm the decks, then wreck the keels — the helms, left crewless whenever the elements beset these crewmen."

    Eunoia by Christian Bök (upgraded edition), p 41

    May 21, 2010

  • Also xebeque.

    May 21, 2010