a fast naval vessel of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, generally having a lofty ship rig and heavily armed on one or two decks.
any of various types of modern naval vessels ranging in size from a destroyer escort to a cruiser, frequently armed with guided missiles and used for aircraft carrier escort duty, shore bombardment, and miscellaneous combat functions.
1580s, from M.Fr. frégate, from It. fregata, like many ship names, of unknown origin. Originally a small, swift vessel, the word was applied to progressively larger types over the years, but since 1943 used mainly of escort ships.