Definitions

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

  • n. A swift Malayan sailboat with a triangular sail and single outrigger.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sailing vessel found in the waters of Micronesia and Indonesia; it has a single, large outrigger and a triangular sail

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sailing canoe of the Ladrone Islands and Malay Archipelago, having its lee side flat and its weather side like that of an ordinary boat. The ends are alike. The canoe is long and narrow, and is kept from overturning by a cigar-shaped log attached to a frame extending several feet to windward. It has been called the flying proa, and is the swiftest sailing craft known.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A kind of Malay vessel remarkable for swiftness, formerly much used by pirates in the Eastern Archipelago.

Etymologies

Malay perahu, probably from Marathi paḍāv.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Malay perahu. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Time out of mind the piratical proas of the Malays, lurking among the low shaded coves and islets of Sumatra, have sallied out...

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 87

    July 26, 2008

  • A type of multi-hull sailing vessel consisting of two unequal-length parallel hulls, sailed so that one hull is kept to windward and the other to leeward--the boat's direction must be reversed when tacking.

    March 4, 2008

  • "...contemplating the broad harbour with its great numbers of European ships, Chinese junks, Malay proas, and innumerable boats and canoes plying to and fro..."
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen Gun Salute, 177–178

    March 4, 2008