[ri-gat-uh, -gah-tuh]
  1. a boat race, as of rowboats, yachts, or other vessels.
  2. an organized series of such races.
  3. (originally) a gondola race in Venice.
  4. a strong, striped cotton fabric that is of twill weave.

Origin of regatta

1645–55; < Upper Italian (Venetian) regatta, regata, perhaps ≪ Vulgar Latin *recaptāre to contend, equivalent to *re- re- + *captāre to try to seize; see catch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for regatta

Historical Examples of regatta

  • It is a fine night for a regatta, and I will stand you a pound on Mr. Handlead's heels.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • And yet you got two hundred and thirty for a regatta in June last!

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • I asked him why he never entered the Halcyone for the Galway regatta.

    My New Curate

    P.A. Sheehan

  • The Shepards were a family we first met at a regatta in Portland Harbor.

    Up the River

    Oliver Optic

  • It is a regatta, a free-for-all, devil-take-the-hindmost affair.

    East of Suez

    Frederic Courtland Penfield

British Dictionary definitions for regatta


  1. an organized series of races of yachts, rowing boats, etc

Word Origin for regatta

C17: from obsolete Italian (Venetian dialect) rigatta contest, of obscure origin
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 regatta

1650s, name of a boat race among gondoliers held on the Grand Canal in Venice, from Italian (Venetian dialect) regatta, literally "contention for mastery," from rigattare "to compete, haggle, sell at retail." [Klein's sources, however, suggest a source in Italian riga "row, rank," from a Germanic source and related to English row (v.).] The general meaning of "boat race, yacht race" is usually considered to have begun with a race on the Thames by that name June 23, 1775 (cf. OED), but there is evidence that it was used as early as 1768.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper