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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small, three-masted Mediterranean transport ship

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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


French chebec, probably from Catalan xabec, from Arabic šabbāk, from šabaka, to entwine, fasten; see śbk in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Either from French chébec, from Spanish xabeque (modern jabeque) or Catalan xabec, ultimately from Arabic شبّاك (šabbāk, "small warship, fishing boat"). (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Also xebeque.

    May 21, 2010

  • "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

  • So far, I haven't a clue. :-)

    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

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

    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

  • 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