Definition of xebec in US English:


(also zebec)


  • A small three-masted Mediterranean sailing ship with lateen and square sails.

    • ‘The Forte, however, having received intelligence that no other British ship than the Seahorse was cruising in the Archipelago, despatched a squadron, composed of two frigates, two corvette, two mortar-vessels, and some xebecs, upon the service in view.’
    • ‘The officers of the xebecs knew they couldn't outmaneuver or outrun the British so they decided to scuttle their craft, toss their armament overboard and escape on foot to the north.’
    • ‘The xebec, as in most ship types, possesses origins difficult to trace.’
    • ‘After a week or so of smooth sailing, they were becoming accustomed to life aboard the hundred-and-thirty foot long xebec.’
    • ‘The frigates easily outgunned the pirates but had trouble blockading their swift, shore-hugging xebecs.’
    • ‘Acclaimed naval artist Tony Gibbons illustrates every type of sailing warship from ships of the line, frigates, and sloops to privateers’ schooners, bomb ketches, and xebecs.’
    • ‘Captain John Frankford, commanding the 18-gun privateer Belvedere out of Philadelphia, had several spirited engagements with French xebecs and privateers off the Spanish coast in the spring of 1799 during the Quasi-War with France.’
    • ‘The awkward xebecs would never be able to outmanoeuvre the British vessels.’
    • ‘Ships in the game include ships of the line, sloops, xebecs, frigates, gun platforms, and bombards.’
    • ‘Many embraced Mohammedonism to escape slavery and at least some joined the xebecs, the swift three masted boats used by the pirates.’
    • ‘They were the final aria in the long opera which had first joined keel and canvas in the xebecs and dhows of the Mediterranean.’


Mid 18th century: alteration (influenced by Spanish xabeque) of French chebec, via Italian from Arabic šabbāk.