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Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French vaissel (compare modern French vaisseau), from Latin vāscellum, diminutive of vāsculum, diminutive of vās (vessel).



vessel (plural vessels)

  1. (nautical) Any craft designed for transportation on water, such as a ship or boat. [From c.1300]
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      But my hope was, that if I stood along this coast till I came to that part where the English traded, I should find some of their vessels upon their usual design of trade, that would relieve and take us in.
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      Conditions were horrendous aboard most British naval vessels at the time. Scurvy and other diseases ran rampant, killing more seamen each year than all other causes combined, including combat.
  2. A craft designed for transportation through air or space. [From 1915]
  3. (uncountable, obsolete or dialectal) Dishes and cutlery collectively, especially if made of precious metals. [c.1300–c.1600]
    • 1523, John Bourchier, tr. Jean Froissart, Here begynneth the first volum of sir Iohan Froyssart : of the cronycles of Englande, Fraunce, Spayne, Portyngale, Scotlande, Bretayne, Flauders: and other places adioynynge.:
      All his Vessell was of golde and siluer, pottis, basons, ewers, dysshes, flagons, barels, cuppes, and all other thyngis.
  4. A container of liquid or other substance, such as a glass, goblet, cup, bottle, bowl, or pitcher. [From c.1300]
  5. A person as a container of qualities or feelings. [From 1382]
    • Bible, Acts ix. 15
      He is a chosen vessel unto me.
    • Milton
      [The serpent] fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom to enter.
    • Dolly Parton, The Seeker lyrics:
      I am a vessel that’s empty and useless / I am a bad seed that fell by the way.
  6. (biology) A tube or canal that carries fluid in an animal or plant. [From 1398]
    Blood and lymph vessels are found in humans; xylem and phloem vessels are found in plants.


Derived terms[edit]



vessel (third-person singular simple present vessels, present participle vesselling or (US) vesseling, simple past and past participle vesselled or (US) vesseled)

  1. (transitive) To put into a vessel.
    • 1577, William Harrison, The Description of England in Holinshed’s Chronicles, Volume 1, Book 3, Chapter 12 “Of venemous beastes &c.,”[2]
      Our hony alſo is taken and reputed to be the beſt bycauſe it is harder, better wrought & clenlyer veſſelled vp, thẽ that which cõmeth from beyond the ſea, where they ſtampe and ſtraine their combes, Bées, & young Blow|inges altogither into the ſtuffe, as I haue béene informed.
    • 1627, Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum: or, A Naturall Historie, London: W. Lee, Cent. VI, section 529, p. 137,[3]
      The fourth Rule ſhall be, to marke what Herbs, ſome Earths doe put fourth of themſelves; And to take that Earth, and to Pot it, or to Veſſell it; And in that to ſet the Seed you would change []
    • 1662, John Heydon, The Harmony of the World, London: Robert Horn, Epistle Dedicatory,[4]
      Man had at the firſt, and ſo have all ſouls before their entrance into the body, an explicite methodicall knowledge, but they are no ſooner veſſel’d, but that liberty is loſt, and nothing remains but a vaſt confuſed notion of the creature []
    • 2009, Reaper (TV series), 2nd season, episode known as The Home Stretch:
      [Samuel 'Sam' Oliver:] Alright (or: All right), so the Devil didn't say that the winner was the one who vesseled (or: vesselled) him, just the one who sends him back to hell.