1. A hollow utensil, such as a cup, vase, or pitcher, used as a container, especially for liquids.
a. Nautical A craft, especially one larger than a rowboat, designed to navigate on water.
b. An airship.
3. Anatomy A duct, canal, or other tube that contains or conveys a body fluid: a blood vessel.
4. Botany One of the tubular water-conducting structures of xylem, consisting of a series of vessel elements attached end to end and connected by perforations. Vessels are found in nearly all flowering plants.
5. A person seen as the agent or embodiment, as of a quality: a vessel of mercy.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin vāscellum, diminutive of Latin vāsculum, diminutive of vās, vessel.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.