Definitions

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

  • n. A warship, usually of 4,000 to 9,000 displacement tons, that is larger than a destroyer and smaller than a cruiser, used primarily for escort duty.
  • n. A high-speed, medium-sized sailing war vessel of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
  • n. Archaic A fast, light vessel, such as a sailboat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An obsolete type of sailing warship with a single continuous gun deck, typically used for patrolling, blockading, etc, but not in line of battle.
  • n. A 19th c. type of warship combining sail and steam propulsion, typically of ironclad timber construction, supplementing and superseding sailing ships of the battle line until made obsolete by the development of the solely steam-propelled iron battleship.
  • n. A modern type of warship, smaller than a destroyer, originally (WWII) introduced as an anti-submarine vessel but now general purpose.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Originally, a vessel of the Mediterranean propelled by sails and by oars. The French, about 1650, transferred the name to larger vessels, and by 1750 it had been appropriated for a class of war vessels intermediate between corvettes and ships of the line. Frigates, from about 1750 to 1850, had one full battery deck and, often, a spar deck with a lighter battery. They carried sometimes as many as fifty guns. After the application of steam to navigation steam frigates of largely increased size and power were built, and formed the main part of the navies of the world till about 1870, when the introduction of ironclads superseded them.
  • n. Any small vessel on the water.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any small sailing vessel.
  • n. Among ships of war of the old style, a vessel larger than a sloop or a brig, and smaller than a ship of the line, usually carrying her guns (which varied in number from about thirty to fifty or sixty) on the main-deck and on a raised quarter-deck and forecastle, or having two decks.
  • n. Same as frigate-bird.

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

  • n. a United States warship larger than a destroyer and smaller than a cruiser
  • n. a medium size square-rigged warship of the 18th and 19th centuries

Etymologies

French frégate, from Italian fregata.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French frégate. (Wiktionary)

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