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[gal-ee-uh n, gal-yuh n]
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  1. a large sailing vessel of the 15th to the 17th centuries used as a fighting or merchant ship, square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and generally lateen-rigged on one or two after masts.
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Origin of galleon

1520–30; < Spanish galeón, augmentative of galea galley
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for galleon

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Who will pray for your soul, I wonder, when that galleon comes to lie board and board with you?

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • If he could dispose of them the galleon would be at his mercy.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • The frigate and galleon came together with a terrific crash.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • On his head was a scarlet cap with a gold band, even as the man in the galleon had said.

    In the Days of Drake

    J. S. Fletcher

  • The St. Philip came to the like end; so did the galleon of Biscay, and divers others.

British Dictionary definitions for galleon


  1. nautical a large sailing ship having three or more masts, lateen-rigged on the after masts and square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast, used as a warship or trader from the 15th to the 18th centuries
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Word Origin

C16: from Spanish galeón, from French galion, from Old French galie galley
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 galleon


large ship, 1520s, from Old French galion "little ship" (13c.), from Spanish galeón "galleon, armed merchant ship," from Byzantine Greek galea "galley" (see galley) + augmentative suffix -on. In English use, especially of Spanish ships involved in the American trade.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper