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[zee-bek] /ˈzi bɛk/
a small, three-masted vessel of the Mediterranean, formerly much used by corsairs, now employed to some extent in commerce.
Also, chebeck, zebec, zebeck.
Origin of xebec
1750-60; alteration of earlier chebec < French < Catalan xabec or Spanish xabeque (now jabeque), both < Arabic shabbāk Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for xebec
Historical Examples
  • The small cannon of the xebec had been dismounted, but they hastily tied them with ropes.

    The Dead Command Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • On the 31st of October he gave chase to a xebec trying to get into the harbor.

    Twelve Naval Captains Molly Elliot Seawell
  • One is a polacre, another a xebec, and the third looks like a full-rigged craft; but as she is end on, I can't say for certain.

    Held Fast For England G. A. Henty
  • The next morning Decatur had himself rowed over to the xebec, and went on board.

  • Equivalent to our hermaphrodite, being a small Mediterranean vessel, between a xebec and a felucca.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The first broadside from the ship's cannons kills five men on the deck of the xebec, among them the father of Riquer.

    The Dead Command Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • That big fellow has got twelve on a side, the polacre has eight, and the xebec six, so between them they have fifty-two guns.

    Held Fast For England G. A. Henty
  • The shallowness of the river near Cairo obliged us to leave the xebec and get on board a djerm.

    Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne
  • Every time one of her boats rowed past the xebec it would be challenged and ugly things said.

  • He had received a wound in the right hand, when on board the xebec 'Cerf'.

    Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne
British Dictionary definitions for xebec


a small three-masted Mediterranean vessel with both square and lateen sails, formerly used by Algerian pirates and later used for commerce
Word Origin
C18: earlier chebec from French, ultimately from Arabic shabbāk; present spelling influenced by Catalan xabec, Spanish xabeque (now jabeque)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for xebec

"small three-masted vessel," by 1745, from French chébec, from Italian sciabecco, ultimately from Arabic shabbak "a small warship." Altered by influence of cognate Spanish xabeque, which shows the old way of representing the Spanish sound now spelled -j-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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