Definition of carrack in US English:



  • A large merchant ship of a kind operating in European waters in the 14th to the 17th century.

    • ‘Mary Rose, a 700-ton Portsmouth-built carrack, is still being sprayed with preservative polyethylene glycol to halt decomposition of the timbers - that is expected to finish in 2008-and she will then be slowly dried.’
    • ‘The Chinese, with ships as large as the Portuguese carracks and much more efficient to windward, traded in growing strength throughout South-east Asia, and settled in the area in far greater numbers than Europeans.’
    • ‘Bigger ships known as carracks, mixing square and lateen sails and weighing up to 1000 tons, could sail further and carry more merchandise than ever before.’
    • ‘It was, after all, fifteenth century Portuguese carracks loaded to the gunnels with soldiers and guns on the way out and booty heading back that started the whole trend.’
    • ‘The Italian city-states kept squadrons of galleys and adapted carracks (merchant ships) to defend their ports against the Ottoman Turks.’


Late Middle English: from Old French caraque; perhaps from Spanish carraca, from Arabic, perhaps from qarāqir, plural of qurqūra, a type of merchant ship.