ship of the line
Contraction of line of battle ship, a warship large enough to be in the line of battle.
- (nautical, military) A large square-rigged warship large enough to have a place in the line of battle. with up to 140 guns on at least two decks. A capital ship from the age of sail, superior to a frigate; usually, a seventy-four, or three-decker.
- The OED records the terms line of battle ship, battleship, ship of the line and liner being used interchangeably up through the 19th century. In modern usage ship of the line is a wooden line of battle ship from the age of sail; battleship is an armoured and motorized warship of the late 19th and mid 20th centuries.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for ship of the line in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)