a small, three-masted vessel of the Mediterranean, formerly much used by corsairs, now employed to some extent in commerce.

Also chebeck, zebec, zebeck.

Origin of xebec

1750–60; alteration of earlier chebec < French < Catalan xabec or Spanish xabeque (now jabeque), both < Arabic shabbāk
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for xebec

Historical Examples of xebec

  • On the 31st of October he gave chase to a xebec trying to get into the harbor.

    Twelve Naval Captains

    Molly Elliot Seawell

  • One is a polacre, another a xebec, and the third looks like a full-rigged craft; but as she is end on, I can't say for certain.

  • That big fellow has got twelve on a side, the polacre has eight, and the xebec six, so between them they have fifty-two guns.

  • Decatur spoke as if he meant what he said, and the officers of the xebec did not want to lose their ears.

  • Equivalent to our hermaphrodite, being a small Mediterranean vessel, between a xebec and a felucca.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

British Dictionary definitions for xebec


zebec or zebeck


a small three-masted Mediterranean vessel with both square and lateen sails, formerly used by Algerian pirates and later used for commerce

Word Origin for xebec

C18: earlier chebec from French, ultimately from Arabic shabbāk; present spelling influenced by Catalan xabec, Spanish xabeque (now jabeque)
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 xebec

"small three-masted vessel," by 1745, from French chébec, from Italian sciabecco, ultimately from Arabic shabbak "a small warship." Altered by influence of cognate Spanish xabeque, which shows the old way of representing the Spanish sound now spelled -j-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper