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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English flet, flete, from Old English flēot (ship)


fleet (plural fleets)

  1. A group of vessels or vehicles.
  2. Any group of associated items.
    • 2004, Jim Hoskins, Building an on Demand Computing Environment with IBM
      This is especially true in distributed printing environments, where a fleet of printers is shared by users on a network.
  3. (nautical) A number of vessels in company, especially war vessels; also, the collective naval force of a country, etc.
  4. (nautical, British Royal Navy) Any command of vessels exceeding a squadron in size, or a rear-admiral's command, composed of five sail-of-the-line, with any number of smaller vessels.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English flet, flete, from Old English flēot (a bay, gulf, an arm of the sea, estuary, the mouth of a river). Cognate with Dutch vliet (stream, river, creek, inlet).


fleet (plural fleets)

  1. (obsolete, dialectal) An arm of the sea; a run of water, such as an inlet or a creek.
    • John Lewis (1736)
      A certain fleet.. through which little boats used to come to the aforesaid town.
    • Matthewes
      Together wove we nets to entrap the fish / In floods and sedgy fleets.
  2. (nautical) A location, as on a navigable river, where barges are secured.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English fleten (float), from Old English flēotan (float)


fleet (third-person singular simple present fleets, present participle fleeting, simple past and past participle fleeted)

  1. (obsolete) To float.
    [Antony] "Our sever'd navy too,
    Have knit again, and fleet, threat'ning most sea-like."
    -- Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
  2. To pass over rapidly; to skim the surface of
    a ship that fleets the gulf
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)
  3. To hasten over; to cause to pass away lightly, or in mirth and joy
    • Shakespeare
      Many young gentlemen flock to him, and fleet the time carelessly.
    And so through this dark world they fleet / Divided, till in death they meet; -- Percy Shelley, Rosalind and Helen.
  4. (nautical) To move up a rope, so as to haul to more advantage; especially to draw apart the blocks of a tackle.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Totten to this entry?)
  5. (nautical, intransitive, of people) To move or change in position.
    • F. T. Bullen
      We got the long "stick" [] down and "fleeted" aft, where it was secured.
  6. (nautical, obsolete) To shift the position of dead-eyes when the shrouds are become too long.
  7. To cause to slip down the barrel of a capstan or windlass, as a rope or chain.
  8. To take the cream from; to skim.



fleet (comparative fleeter or more fleet, superlative fleetest or most fleet)

  1. (literary) Swift in motion; moving with velocity; light and quick in going from place to place; nimble; fast.
    • Milton
      In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong.
    • 1908: Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
      [] it was not till the afternoon that they came out on the high-road, their first high-road; and there disaster, fleet and unforeseen, sprang out on them — disaster momentous indeed to their expedition []
  2. (uncommon) Light; superficially thin; not penetrating deep, as soil.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Mortimer to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]