Open main menu



A Portuguese caravel
English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Middle French caravelle, from Portuguese caravela.


Alternative formsEdit


caravel (plural caravels)

  1. (nautical) A light, usually lateen-rigged sailing ship used by the Portuguese, as well as Spanish, for about 300 years, beginning in the fifteenth century, first for trade and later for voyages of exploration.
    • 1992, William D. Phillips, Jr., Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, Cambridge University Press, page 71,
      Fishermen and other mariners who used caravels along the Atlantic coast of Portugal and the Cantabrian coast of Spain probably strengthened the hull to withstand the open ocean, perhaps using small whaling vessels as their model.
      As the Portuguese explored the coastline of Africa, they used small caravels with a two-masted lateen rig for many tasks, especially after they rounded Cape Bojador. The lateen caravel could beat its way home while keeping within reassuring sight of the coast.
    • 2001, Peter Edward Russell, Prince Henry ‘the Navigator’: A Life, Yale University Press (Yale Nota Bene), page 229,
      Thus the brand-new caravel which took Cadamosto to Senegambia in 1455 was a vessel of some fifty-four tons capacity.
    • 2008, Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup, The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Volume 1: To 1550, 4th Edition, Cengage Learning, page 468,
      Instead, the voyages of exploration made use of a new vessel, the caravel. Caravels were much smaller than the largest European ships and the Chinese junks Zheng He had used to explore the Indian Ocean early in the fifteenth century.