from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A two-masted sailing ship, square-rigged on both masts.
  • n. A jail or prison on board a U.S. Navy or Coast Guard vessel.
  • n. A jail or guardhouse, especially on the premises of a U.S. military installation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A two-masted vessel, square-rigged on both foremast and mainmast
  • n. A jail or guardhouse, especially in a naval military prison or jail on a ship, navy base, or (in fiction) spacecraft.
  • n. A Scottish variation of bridge
  • n. Brigadier.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bridge.
  • n. A two-masted, square-rigged vessel.
  • n. On a United States man-of-war, the prison or place of confinement for offenders.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bridge.
  • n. A utensil used in breweries and in dairies to set the strainer on.
  • n. A kind of iron set over a fire.
  • n. A ledge of rocks running out into the sea.
  • n. A vessel with two masts square-rigged, nearly like a ship's mainmast and foremast.
  • n. The place on board a man-of-war where prisoners are confined.
  • n. An abbreviation of Brigade; Brigadier.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. two-masted sailing vessel square-rigged on both masts
  • n. a penal institution (especially on board a ship)


Short for brigantine. Senses 2 and 3, from the use of ships as prisons.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Abbreviated from brigantine, from Italian brigantino; in sense “jail”, from the use of such ships as prisons. (Wiktionary)
Shortening of brigadier (Wiktionary)


  • The talking point that the military cannot keep the prisoners securely in such facilities as Fort Leavenworth or the Charleston brig is simply laughable.


  • 'Why, aye, ma'am,' answered Ewart, 'they call the brig so at Dunkirk, sure enough; but along shore here, they call her the JUMPING JENNY.'


  • Joe Cross had incidentally said that he believed it was a brig, and that night as Rodd lay half asleep, half wakeful, in his cot, kept from finding the customary repose of a tired lad by the heat of the narrow cabin below, the word brig brought to mind the vessel that had so nearly run upon them in Havre-de-Grace, and in a drowsy stupid way he had pictured her tall tapering spars, the flapping of her stay-sail, and the rush of the storm.

    The Ocean Cat's Paw The Story of a Strange Cruise

  • ‘Why, aye, ma’am,’ answered Ewart, ‘they call the brig so at Dunkirk, sure enough; but along shore here, they call her the JUMPING JENNY.’


  • "'You know,' he continued, 'that the brig is short about a dozen hands, and I want you to pick up a few likely lads here.

    Willis the Pilot

  • He got hold of the Sanderses and their brig; they were brothers, and the brig was the Pride of Banya, and he it was bought the diving-dress — a second-hand one with a compressed air apparatus instead of pumping.

    Twelve Stories and a Dream, by H. G. Wells

  • The brig was a small compartment, which always surprised Kara Thrace when she thought about it.

    Battlestar Galactica

  • “Do you know that the brig is a mile and a quarter from the shore?” said Herbert.

    The Mysterious Island

  • The brig was a good sailer, for she approached rapidly.

    The Mysterious Island

  • The captain of the brig was a simple-minded man with a strongish will, and he at once declared that if his casks were not filled in three hours, he would destroy the whole place.


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  • She peered, one eyebrow cocked. "You're young but not too young. You're good-looking. Your voice is commanding and you have no reluctance about brigging me like this. You're exactly what a twerp fan would look like, sound like, act like. Okay; are you satisfied?"

    - P.K. Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

    March 26, 2012

  • Originally brigantine

    March 7, 2007