O.E. fleot "ship, floating vessel," from fleotan "to float," from P.Gmc. *fleut-, from PIE base *pleu- "to flow, run, swim." Sense of "naval force" is pre-1200. The O.E. word also meant "creek, inlet, flow of water," especially one into the Thames near Ludgate Hill, which lent its name to Fleet Street (home of newspaper and magazine houses, standing for "the English press" since 1882), Fleet prison, etc.