Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[ves-uh l] /ˈvɛs əl/
a craft for traveling on water, now usually one larger than an ordinary rowboat; a ship or boat.
an airship.
a hollow or concave utensil, as a cup, bowl, pitcher, or vase, used for holding liquids or other contents.
Anatomy, Zoology. a tube or duct, as an artery or vein, containing or conveying blood or some other body fluid.
Botany. a duct formed in the xylem, composed of connected cells that have lost their intervening partitions, that conducts water and mineral nutrients.
Compare tracheid.
a person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, especially something nonmaterial:
a vessel of grace; a vessel of wrath.
Origin of vessel
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French vessel, va(i)ssel < Latin vāscellum, equivalent to vās (see vase) + -cellum diminutive suffix
Related forms
vesseled; especially British, vesselled, adjective
unvesseled, adjective
Can be confused
vassal, vessel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for vessels
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He may perhaps be on the eve of starting away by some of the vessels in the port.

    Life in London Edwin Hodder
  • As to the stone, it glanced off obliquely and fell midway between the vessels.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • From the shields, there is not one of these vessels which hath not knight or baron aboard.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • There are ten vessels to-day passing in and out to one in 1880.

  • At this one of the vessels hailed them, and then after a while, having no reply, hailed them again.

British Dictionary definitions for vessels


any object used as a container, esp for a liquid
a passenger or freight-carrying ship, boat, etc
an aircraft, esp an airship
(anatomy) a tubular structure that transports such body fluids as blood and lymph
(botany) a tubular element of xylem tissue consisting of a row of cells in which the connecting cell walls have broken down
(rare) a person regarded as an agent or vehicle for some purpose or quality: she was the vessel of the Lord
Word Origin
C13: from Old French vaissel, from Late Latin vascellum urn, from Latin vās vessel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for vessels



c.1300, "container," from Old French vessel (French vaisseau) from Latin vascellum "small vase or urn," also "a ship," diminutive of vasculum, itself a diminutive of vas "vessel." Sense of "ship, boat" is found in English c.1300. "The association between hollow utensils and boats appears in all languages" [Weekley]. Meaning "canal or duct of the body" (especially for carrying blood) is attested from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
vessels in Medicine

vessel ves·sel (věs'əl)
A duct, canal, or other tube that contains or conveys a body fluid such as blood or lymph.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
vessels in Science
  1. A blood vessel.

  2. A long, continuous column made of the lignified walls of dead vessel elements, along which water flows in the xylem of angiosperms.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for vessels

Difficulty index for vessel

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for vessels

Scrabble Words With Friends