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SCHOONER. A schooner is a sailing vessel that, in its pure form, originated at Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1713–1714. It is a fore-and-aft-rigged craft, originally small (fifty to one hundred tons), with two masts, designed for coastwise trade. It developed in the 1880s and 1890s into vessels of two to three thousand tons, having four, five, and even six masts. Only one seven-master was attempted (1901–1902), the Thomas W. Lawson, which was 368 feet long and 5,200 tons.

The use of schooners began to decline gradually in the mid-1800s with the advent of steam-powered vessels, but the schooner has always stood as the favorite and distinctive rig of American waters.


Hahn, Harold M. The Colonial Schooner, 1763–1775. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1981.

MacGregor, David R. Schooners in Four Centuries. Annapolis, Md.; Naval Institute Press, 1982.

William LincolnBrown/a. r.

See alsoColonial Ships ; Shipbuilding ; Transportation and Travel .

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schoon·er / ˈskoōnər/ • n. 1. a sailing ship with two or more masts, typically with the foremast smaller than the mainmast, and having gaff-rigged lower masts. 2. a tall beer glass.


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schooner small sea-going fore-and-aft-rigged vessel. XVIII (skooner, scooner). of uncert. orig.

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