Definition: Ship

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Etymology 1

From Middle English ship, schip, from Old English sċip, from Proto-West Germanic *skip, from Proto-Germanic *skipą, from Proto-Indo-European *skēyb-, *skib-.


ship (plural ships)

  1. (nautical) A water-borne vessel generally larger than a boat.
  2. A vessel which travels through any medium other than across land, such as an airship or spaceship.
  3. (cellular automata) A spaceship.
  4. (cellular automata) A particular still life consisting of an empty cell surrounded by six live cells.
  5. A dish or utensil (originally fashioned like the hull of a ship) used to hold incense.
  6. (cartomancy) The third card of the Lenormand deck.

Usage notes

The singular form ship is sometimes used without any article, producing such sentences as "In all, we spent three weeks aboard ship." and "Abandon ship!". (Similar patterns may be seen with many place nouns, such as camp, home, work, and school, but the details vary between them.) Ships are traditionally regarded as feminine and the pronouns her and she are still sometimes used instead of it.

Derived terms

  • abandon ship
  • airship
  • battleship
  • cargo ship
  • coffin ship
  • container ship
  • cruise ship
  • escort ship
  • factory ship
  • fireship
  • flagship
  • ghost ship
  • hospital ship
  • jump ship
  • landing ship
  • lightship
  • longship
  • merchant ship
  • mother ship
  • motor ship
  • passenger ship
  • pirate ship
  • rocket ship
  • shipbuilding
  • sailing ship
  • sister ship
  • shipmate
  • shipshape
  • shipwreck
  • shipyard
  • slave ship
  • spaceship
  • starship
  • steamship
  • store ship
  • supply ship
  • tall ship
  • tight ship
  • torchship
  • training ship
  • transport ship
  • troopship
  • warship
  • weather ship

Related terms

Etymology 2

From Middle English schippen, schipen, from Old English sċipian, from Proto-Germanic *skipōną, from Proto-Germanic *skipą (ship).


ship (third-person singular simple present ships, present participle shipping, simple past and past participle shipped)

  1. To send by water-borne transport.
  2. To send (a parcel or container) to a recipient (by any means of transport).
    They needed to ship the freight by railroad.
  3. To release a product (not necessarily physical) to vendors or customers; to launch.
    Our next issue ships early next year.
    It compiles? Ship it!
  4. To engage to serve on board a vessel.
    I shipped on a man-of-war.
  5. To embark on a ship.
  6. (nautical) To put or secure in its place.
    We needed to ship the rudder.
  7. To take in (water) over the sides of a vessel.
    We were shipping so much water I was sure we would capsize.
  8. (sports) To trade or send a player to another team.
    Twins ship Delmon Young to Tigers.
  9. (rugby) To bungle a kick and give the opposing team possession.

Derived terms

  • shipment
  • shipper
  • shipping


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