AskDefine | Define barque

Dictionary Definition

barque n : a sailing ship with 3 (or more) masts [syn: bark]

User Contributed Dictionary



Possibly cognate with Spanish barco



  1. In the context of "nautical": a sailing vessel of three or more masts, having all masts but the sternmost square-rigged, the sternmost being fore-and-aft-rigged
    • 1873 (published 1889, 1996), William Campbell, An Account of Missionary Success in the Island of Formosa, SMC Publishing Inc., page 279
      On being told, however, that the Norwegian barque Daphne was about to leave An-peng for Tamsui, I had my things taken on board, and we set sail a few hours later.
  2. In the context of "archaic}} any small sailing vessel

Extensive Definition

A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel.

History of the term

See barge for the word's etymology
The word barc appears to have come from Celtic languages. The form adopted by English, perhaps from Irish, was bark, while that adopted by French, perhaps from Gaulish, was barge and barque. French influence in England after the Conquest led to the use in English of both words, though their meanings are not now the same. Well before the 19th century a barge had become a small vessel of coastal or inland waters. Somewhat later, a bark became a sailing vessel of a distinctive rig as detailed below. In Britain, by the mid-nineteenth century, the spelling had taken on the French form of barque. Francis Bacon used this form of the word as early as 1605.
In the 18th century, the British Royal Navy used the term bark for a nondescript vessel which did not fit any of its usual categories. Thus, when on the advice of Captain James Cook, a collier was bought into the navy and converted for exploration she was called HM Bark Endeavour. She happened to be a ship-rigged sailing vessel with a plain bluff bow and a full stern with windows.
By the end of the 18th century, however, the term barque (sometimes, particularly in the USA, spelled bark) came to refer to any vessel with a particular type of rig. This comprises three (or more) masts, fore-and-aft sails on the aftermost mast and square sails on all other masts. A well-preserved example of a commercial barque is Falls of Clyde; built in 1878, it is now preserved as a museum ship in Honolulu. Another well preserved barque is the Pommern, the only windjammer in original condition. Its home is in Mariehamn outside the Åland maritime museum. The United States Coast Guard still has an operational Barque, built in Germany in 1936 and captured as a war prize, the USCGC Eagle which is used as a training vessel at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The oldest active sailing vessel in the world, the Star of India, was built in 1863 as a fully square-rigged ship, then converted into a barque in 1901.
Throughout the period of sail, the word was used also as a shortening of the barca-longa of the Mediterranean Sea.


The advantage of these rigs was that they needed smaller (therefore cheaper) crews than a comparable full-rigged ship or brig-rigged vessel. Conversely, the ship rig tended to be retained for training vessels where the larger the crew, the more seamen were trained. Another advantage is that a barque can outperform a schooner or barkentine, and is both easier to handle and better to rise towards wind than a full-rigged ship. While full-rigged ship is the best runner available, and while fore-and-aft riggers are the best to rise towards wind, the barque is the best compromise between these two, and combine the best of these two.
Most ocean-going windjammers were four-masted barques, since the four-masted barque is considered the most efficient rig available because of its ease of handling, small need of manpower, good running cababilities and good capabilities of rising towards wind. Usually the fore mast was the tallest, and that of Moshulu extends to 58 m off the deck. The four-masted barque can be handled with a surprisingly small crew - at minimum, ten, and while the usual crew was around thirty, almost half of them could be apprentices.
Today most sailing school ships are barques.

Barque shrines in ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, gods (statues) travelled not by boats on water, but by smaller symbolic boats which were carried by priests. Temples included barque shrines in which the sacred barques rested when a procession was not in progress.

References and further reading

barque in Bulgarian: Барк
barque in Bosnian: Bark
barque in Czech: Bark
barque in Welsh: Barc
barque in Danish: Bark (skibstype)
barque in German: Bark (Schiff)
barque in Estonian: Parklaev
barque in Finnish: Parkki
barque in French: Trois-mâts barque
barque in Icelandic: Barkskip
barque in Italian: Veliero
barque in Japanese: バーク
barque in Dutch: Bark (zeilschip)
barque in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bark
barque in Norwegian: Bark (skip)
barque in Polish: Bark (żaglowiec)
barque in Russian: Барк
barque in Serbo-Croatian: Bark
barque in Slovak: Bark
barque in Swedish: Barkskepp
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