Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

clipper ship

noun
  1. clipper(def 4).
Show More

clipper

[klip-er]
noun
  1. a person or thing that clips or cuts.
  2. Often clippers. (often used with a plural verb) a cutting tool, especially shears: hedge clippers.
  3. Usually clippers. (usually used with a plural verb) a mechanical or electric tool for cutting hair, fingernails, or the like: He told the barber, “No clippers on the sides, please.”
  4. Nautical. Also called clipper ship. a sailing ship built and rigged for speed, especially a type of three-masted ship with a fast hull form and a lofty rig, built in the U.S. from c1845, and in Great Britain from a later date, until c1870, and used in trades in which speed was more important than cargo capacity.
  5. Electronics. a device that gives output only for an input above or below a certain critical value.
  6. a person or thing that moves along swiftly.
Show More

Origin of clipper

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at clip1, -er1
Related formsun·clip·per, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for clipper-ship

Historical Examples

  • A clipper-ship from Boston, two thousand tons, and with skysails.

    White Shadows in the South Seas

    Frederick O'Brien

  • I have seen a very dazzling effect produced in the principal cabin of an American clipper-ship quite opposed to this in taste.

  • My article was about the burning of the clipper-ship 'Hornet' on the line, May 3, 1866.

  • Sir, what horror to believe that clipper-ship was built by the hands of Northern, noisy Abolition church-members!

    Slavery Ordained of God

    Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.


British Dictionary definitions for clipper-ship

clipper

noun
  1. any fast sailing ship
  2. a person or thing that cuts or clips
  3. something, such as a horse or sled, that moves quickly
  4. electronics another word for limiter
Show More
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 clipper-ship

clipper

n.

late 14c., "sheepshearer;" early 15c., "a barber;" c.1300 as a surname; agent noun from Middle English clippen "shorten" (see clip (v.1)). The type of fast sailing ship so called from 1823 (in Cooper's "The Pilot"), probably from clip (v.1) in sense of "to move or run rapidly," hence early 19c. sense "person or animal who looks capable of fast running." Perhaps originally simply "fast ship," regardless of type:

Well, you know, the Go-along-Gee was one o' your flash Irish cruisers -- the first o' your fir-built frigates -- and a clipper she was! Give her a foot o' the sheet, and she'd go like a witch--but somehow o'nother, she'd bag on a bowline to leeward. ["Naval Sketch-Book," by "An officer of rank," London, 1826]

The early association of the ships was with Baltimore, Maryland. Perhaps influenced by Middle Dutch klepper "swift horse," echoic (Clipper appears as the name of an English race horse in 1831). In late 18c., the word principally meant "one who cuts off the edges of coins" for the precious metal.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper