the act or business of a person or thing that ships.
a number of ships, especially merchant ships, taken as a whole; tonnage.
Obsolete. a voyage.

Nearby words

  1. shipment,
  2. shipowner,
  3. shippable,
  4. shipper,
  5. shippie,
  6. shipping agent,
  7. shipping articles,
  8. shipping clerk,
  9. shipping fever,
  10. shipping lane

Origin of shipping

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at ship1, -ing1

Related formsnon·ship·ping, adjective



noun Slang.

the act or practice of taking an interest in a romantic relationship between fictional characters or famous people, whether or not the romance actually exists, as by writing fan fiction: the shipping of TV characters; shipping in webcomics.

Origin of shipping

First recorded in 1990–95; (relation)ship + -ing1




a vessel, especially a large oceangoing one propelled by sails or engines.
  1. a sailing vessel square-rigged on all of three or more masts, having jibs, staysails, and a spanker on the aftermost mast.
  2. Now Rare.a bark having more than three masts.Compare shipentine.
the crew and, sometimes, the passengers of a vessel: The captain gave the ship shore leave.
an airship, airplane, or spacecraft.

verb (used with object), shipped, ship·ping.

to put or take on board a ship or other means of transportation; to send or transport by ship, rail, truck, plane, etc.
Nautical. to take in (water) over the side, as a vessel does when waves break over it.
to bring (an object) into a ship or boat.
to engage (someone) for service on a ship.
to fix in a ship or boat in the proper place for use.
to place (an oar) in proper position for rowing.Compare boat(def 10).
to send away: They shipped the kids off to camp for the summer.

verb (used without object), shipped, ship·ping.

to go on board or travel by ship; embark.
to engage to serve on a ship.

Verb Phrases

ship out,
  1. to leave, especially for another country or assignment: He said goodby to his family and shipped out for the West Indies.
  2. to send away, especially to another country or assignment.
  3. quit, resign, or be fired from a job: Shape up or ship out!

Origin of ship

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English scip; cognate with Dutch schip, German Schiff, Old Norse, Gothic skip; (v.) Middle English s(c)hip(p)en, derivative of the noun

Related formsship·less, adjectiveship·less·ly, adverbmis·ship, verb, mis·shipped, mis·ship·ping.pre·ship, verb (used with object), pre·shipped, pre·ship·ping.

Can be confusedbarge boat canoe cruise ship sailboat ship yacht




a romantic relationship between fictional characters, especially one that people discuss, write about, or take an interest in, whether or not the romance actually exists in the original book, show, etc.: popular ships in fan fiction.

verb (used with or without object), shipped, ship·ping.

to discuss, write about, or take an interest in a romantic relationship between (fictional characters): I'm shipping for those guys—they would make a great couple!

Origin of ship

First recorded in 1995–2000; shortening of relationship Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shipping

British Dictionary definitions for shipping



  1. the business of transporting freight, esp by ship
  2. (as modifier)a shipping magnate; shipping line
  1. ships collectivelythere is a lot of shipping in the Channel
  2. the tonnage of a number of shipsshipping for this year exceeded that of last



a vessel propelled by engines or sails for navigating on the water, esp a large vessel that cannot be carried aboard another, as distinguished from a boat
nautical a large sailing vessel with three or more square-rigged masts
the crew of a ship
short for airship, spaceship
informal any vehicle or conveyance
when one's ship comes in when one has become successful or wealthy

verb ships, shipping or shipped

to place, transport, or travel on any conveyance, esp aboard a shipship the microscopes by aeroplane; can we ship tomorrow?
(tr) nautical to take (water) over the side
to bring or go aboard a vesselto ship oars
(tr often foll by off) informal to send away, often in order to be rid ofthey shipped the children off to boarding school
(intr) to engage to serve aboard a shipI shipped aboard a Liverpool liner
informal (tr) to concede (a goal)Celtic have shipped eight goals in three away matches
See also ship out

Derived Formsshippable, adjective

Word Origin for ship

Old English scip; related to Old Norse skip, Old High German skif ship, scipfī cup

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 shipping
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shipping


In addition to the idioms beginning with ship

  • ship of state
  • ship out
  • ships that pass in the night

also see:

  • desert a sinking ship
  • enough to sink a ship
  • shape up (or ship out)
  • tight ship
  • when one's ship comes in
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.