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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Corvette'

Corvette Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    corvette n : a highly maneuverable escort warship; smaller than a destroyer
Corvette Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Corvet \Cor"vet\ (k?r"v?t), Corvette \Cor*vette"\ (k?r-v?r"), n. [F. corvette, fr. Pg. corveta or Sp. corbeta, fr. L. corbita a slow-sailing ship of burden, fr, corbis basket. Cf. Corbeil.] (Naut.) A war vessel, ranking next below a frigate, and having usually only one tier of guns; -- called in the United States navy a sloop of war.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Corvette'

A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate (2000+ tons) and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft (500 or fewer tons), although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role. During the Age of Sail, corvettes were smaller than frigates and larger than sloops-of-war, usually with a single gun deck. Although almost all modern navies use ships smaller than frigates for coastal duty, not all of them use the term corvette (from the French corvair) or equivalent. The rank "Corvette Captain" derives from the name of this type of ship.

During the Age of Sail, corvettes were one of many types of smaller warships. They were very closely related to sloops-of-war. The role of the corvette consisted mostly of coastal patrol, fighting minor wars, supporting large fleets, or participating in show-the-flag missions. The English Navy began using small ships in the 1650s, but described them as sloops rather than corvettes. The first reference to a corvette was with the French Navy in the 1670s, which may be where the term originated. The Royal Navy did not use the term until after the Napoleonic Wars to describe a small unrated vessel somewhat larger than a sloop.

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