- a vessel loaded with combustibles and explosives, ignited, and set adrift to destroy an enemy's ships or constructions.
Origin of fire ship
First recorded in 1580–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for fire ship
It is a fire-ship,” cried Pepé, “with which they want to set fire to our island.Wood Rangers
A vessel filled with combustibles, but rather for explosion than as a fire-ship.The Sailor's Word-Book
William Henry Smyth
There could be no doubt that her intention must be to run aboard the Orpheus, and that she must be a fire-ship.Hurricane Hurry
The other fire-ship had been less calmly and skilfully managed.
He ran the enemy aboard to windward, lashed the fire-ship there, and fired the train.
- a vessel loaded with explosives and used, esp formerly, as a bomb by igniting it and directing it to drift among an enemy's warships
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