a small Spanish or Portuguese sailing vessel of the Middle Ages and later, usually lateen-rigged on two or three masts.

Nearby words

  1. caravaggio, michelangelo merisi da,
  2. caravan,
  3. caravanner,
  4. caravansary,
  5. caravanserai,
  6. caraway,
  7. carb,
  8. carb-,
  9. carbachol,
  10. carbamate

Also carvel.

Origin of caravel

1520–30; < Middle French car(a)velle < Portuguese caravela, equivalent to cárav(o) kind of ship (< Late Latin carabus a small wicker boat < Greek kárabos skiff, crayfish) + -ela diminutive suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for caravel

British Dictionary definitions for caravel




a two- or three-masted sailing ship, esp one with a broad beam, high poop deck, and lateen rig that was used by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries

Word Origin for caravel

C16: from Portuguese caravela, diminutive of caravo ship, ultimately from Greek karabos crab, horned beetle

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

Word Origin and History for caravel



1520s, from Middle French caravelle (15c.), from Spanish carabela or Portuguese caravela, diminutive of caravo "small vessel," from Late Latin carabus "small wicker boat covered with leather," from Greek karabos, literally "beetle, lobster" (see scarab). Earlier form carvel (early 15c.) survives in carvel-built (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper