AskDefine | Define yacht

The Collaborative Dictionary

Yacht \Yacht\, v. i. To manage a yacht; to voyage in a yacht. [1913 Webster]
Yacht \Yacht\ (y[o^]t), n. [D. jagt, jacht; perhaps properly, a chase, hunting, from. jagen to chase, hunt, akin to G. jagen, OHG. jag[=o]n, of uncertain origin; or perhaps akin to OHG. g[=a]hi quick, sudden (cf. Gay).] (Naut.) A light and elegantly furnished vessel, used either for private parties of pleasure, or as a vessel of state to convey distinguished persons from one place to another; a seagoing vessel used only for pleasure trips, racing, etc. [1913 Webster] Yacht measurement. See the Note under Tonnage,
[1913 Webster]

Word Net

yacht n : an expensive vessel propelled by sail or power and used for cruising or racing [syn: racing yacht] v : travel in a yacht

Moby Thesaurus

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see Yacht



From the Modern jacht, from the jagt, short for jaghtschip, (ship for chasing), from the verb jagen, related to German jagen and Danish jage ('to hunt').


  • /yɒt/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒt


  1. A slick and light ship for making pleasure trips or racing on water, having sails but often motor powered. At times used as a residence offshore on a dock.
    "Would you like to go sailing on my uncle’s yacht?"
    "You are a true yachtsman! Are you a member of the local yacht club?"
  2. Any vessel used for private, noncommercial purposes.


slick and light ship
  • Bosnian: jahta
  • Croatian: jahta
  • Czech: jachta
  • Estonian: jaht
  • Finnish: jahti, huvipursi
  • German: Yacht, Jacht
  • Greek: γιοτ
  • Hungarian: jacht
  • Italian: panfilo, yacht
  • Japanese: ヨット (yótto)
  • Russian: яхта (jáχta)
  • Slovene: jahta
  • Spanish: yate
any private noncommercial vessel
  • Finnish: huvialus
  • German: Yacht, Jacht
  • Greek: θαλαμηγός
  • Hungarian: jacht
  • Japanese: (fune), ボート (bōto)


  1. To sail, voyage, or race in a yacht.


to voyage in a yacht
  • Spanish: ir en yate



From yacht < .


fr-noun m
A yacht is a recreational boat. It designates two rather different classes of watercraft, sailing and power yachts. Yachts are differentiated from working ships mainly by their leisure purpose. It was not until the ascendancy of the steamboat and other types of powerboat that sailing vessels in general came to be perceived as luxury items. However, since the level of luxury on larger yachts has seen an increasing trend, the use of the word yacht to mean any sailing vessel has been diminishing and is more and more limited to racing yachts or cruising yachts.
Yacht lengths generally start at 32–35 feet (10–11 m) and go up to hundreds of feet. A mega yacht generally refers to any yacht (sail or power) above 100' or 34 m and a super yacht generally refers to any yacht over 200' or 70 m. This size is small in relation to typical cruise liners and oil tankers.


Yacht (, from Dutch Jacht meaning hunting, compare German Jagd) was originally defined as a light, fast sailing vessel used by the Dutch navy to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into the shallow waters of the Low Countries. After its selection by Charles II of England as the vessel of choice for his return to Britain from the Netherlands for his restoration, it came to be used to convey important persons.
Later, the word came to designate a wider range of vessels, almost always in private use (i.e. not used for commercial carriage of cargo or passengers), propelled by sail, power, or both, and used for pleasure cruising or racing.

Construction Materials and Techniques

Until the 1950s, almost all yachts were made of wood, or steel in larger yacht, but now there is a much wider range of materials. Although wood hulls are still in production, the most common construction material is fibreglass, followed by aluminum, steel, carbon fibre, and ferrocement (rarer because of insurance difficulties). The use of wood has changed and is no longer limited to traditionally board-based methods, but also includes modern products such as plywood, veneers and epoxy resins. However, wood is mostly used by hobbyists or wooden boat purists when building an individual boat.

Sailing yachts

Sailing yachts can range in overall length (Length Over All—LOA, in yachting parlance) from about 20 feet (6 m) to well over 100 feet (30 m), where the distinction between a yacht and a ship becomes blurred. However, most privately owned yachts fall in the range of about 25–45 feet (7–14 m); the cost of building and keeping a yacht rises quickly as length increases. In the U.S., sailors tend to refer to smaller yachts as sailboats, while referring to the general sport of sailing as yachting. Within the limited context of sailboat racing, a yacht is any sailing vessel taking part in a race, regardless of size.
Modern yachts have efficient sail-plans, most notably the Bermuda rig, that allow them to sail towards the wind. This capability is the result of a sail-plan and hull design, typically a sloop rig, that utilizes Bernoulli's principle to generate lift.

Classification of sailing yachts

Day sailing yachts
are usually small sub-20-feet (6 m) in length. Sometimes called dinghies, they often have a retractable keel, centerboard, or daggerboard. Most day sailing yachts do not have a cabin, as they are designed for hourly or daily use and not for overnight journeys.
Weekender yachts
are slightly larger, sub-30-feet (9.5 m) in length. They often have twin keels or lifting keels such as in trailer sailers. This allows them to operate in shallow waters, and if needed "dry out"—become beached as the tide falls. The hull shape (or twin-keel layout) allows the boat to sit upright when there is no water. Such boats are designed to undertake short journeys, rarely lasting more than 2 or 3 days (hence their name). Of course, in coastal areas long trips may be undertaken in a series of short hops.
Weekenders usually have only a simple cabin, often consisting of a single "saloon" with bedspace for two to three people. Clever use of ergonomics allows space in the saloon for a galley (kitchen), seating, and navigation equipment as well. There is limited space for stores of water and food. Most are single-masted "Bermuda sloops" (not to be confused with the type of traditional Bermudian ship known as a Bermuda sloop), with a single foresail of the jib or genoa type and a single mainsail (one variation of the aforementioned Bermuda rig). Some are gaff rigged. The smallest of this type, generally called pocket yachts or pocket cruisers, and trailer sailers can be transported on special trailers.
Cruising yachts are by the far the most common yacht in private use, making up most of the 25' to 45' (7 m to 14 m) range. These vessels can be quite complex in design, as they need a balance between docile handling qualities, interior space, good light-wind performance and on-board comfort. The huge range of such craft, from dozens of builders worldwide, makes it hard to give a single illustrative description. However, most favour a teardrop-planform hull, with a wide, flat bottom and deep single-fin keel to give good stability. Most are single-masted Bermuda rigged sloops, with a single fore-sail of the jib or Genoa type and a single mainsail. Spinnaker sails,in various sizes, are often supplied for down-wind use. These types are often chosen as family vessels, especially those in the 30- to 40-foot (8 to 12 m) range. Such a vessel will usually have many cabins below deck. Typically there will be three double-berth cabins; a single large saloon with galley, seating and navigation equipment; and a "head" consisting of a toilet and shower-room.
Most large yachts, 50 feet (15 m) and up, are also cruisers, but their design varies greatly as they are often "one off" designs tailored to the specific needs of the buyer.The interior is often finished in wood panelling, with plenty of storage space. Cruisers are quite capable of taking on long-range passages of many thousands of miles. Such boats have a cruising speed upwards of 6 knots. This basic design is typical of the standard types produced by the major yacht-builders.
Luxury sailing yachts
These yachts are generally 82 ft or longer, in recent years, these yachts have evolved from fairly simple vessels with basic accommodation into sophisticated and luxurious boats. This is largely due to reduced hull-building costs brought about by the introduction of fibreglass hulls, and increased automation and "production line" techniques for yacht building, especially in Europe.
On the biggest, 130-foot-plus (40 m) luxury yachts, every modern convenience, from air conditioning to television, is found. Sailing yachts of this size are often highly automated, with for example, computer-controlled electric winches controlling the sails. Such complexity requires dedicated power-generation systems. In recent years the amount of electric equipment used on yachts has increased greatly. Even 20 years ago, it was not common for a 25-feet (7 m) yacht to have electric lighting. Now all but the smallest, most basic yachts have electric lighting, radio, and navigation aids such as GPS (Global Positioning System). Yachts around 33 feet (10 m) bring in comforts such as hot water, pressurised water systems, refrigerators, etc. Aids such as radar, echo-sounding and autopilot are common. This means that the auxiliary engine now also performs the vital function of powering an alternator to provide electrical power and to recharge the yacht's batteries. For yachts engaged on long-range cruising, wind-, water- and solar-powered generators can perform the same function.
Racing yachts Racing yachts try to reduce the wetted surface area, which creates drag, by keeping the hull light whilst having a deep and heavy bulb keel, allowing them to support a tall mast with a great sail area. Modern designs tend to have a very wide beam and a flat bottom, to provide buoyancy preventing an excessive heel angle. Speeds of up to 35 knots can be attained in extreme conditions. Dedicated offshore racing yachts sacrifice crew comfort for speed, having basic accommodation to reduce weight. Depending on the type of race, such a yacht may have a crew of 15 or more. Very large inshore racing yachts may have a crew of 30.
At the other extreme there are "single handed" races, where one person alone must control the yacht. Yacht races may be over a simple course of only a few miles, as in the harbour racing of the International One Design; long-distance, open-ocean races, like the Bermuda Race; or epic trans-global contests such as the Global Challenge, Volvo Ocean Race, and Clipper Round the World Race.


The motive force being the wind, sailing is more economical and environmentally friendly than any other means of propulsion. A more economical hybrid type of vessel is a motor sailing yacht that can use either sail or propulsion (or both) as conditions dictate.
Many "pure" sailing yachts are also equipped with a low-power internal-combustion engine for use in conditions of calm and when entering or leaving difficult anchorages. Vessels less than 25 feet (7 m) in length generally carry a petrol outboard-motor of between 5 and 40 horsepower (3.5 and 30 kW). Larger vessels have in-board diesel engines of between 20 and 100 horsepower (15 and 75 kW) depending on size. In the common 25- to 45-foot (7 to 14 m) class, engines of 20 to 40 horsepower are the most common.

Number of Hulls

  • Monohull yachts are typically fitted with a fixed keel or a centerboard (adjustable keel) below the waterline to counterbalance the overturning force of wind on the vessel's sails.
  • Multihull yachts use two hulls catamarans or three trimarans widely separated from each other to provide a stable base that resists overturning and allows for sailing in shallower waters than most keeled monohulls.

Motor Yachts

Classification of motor yachts

  • Day cruiser yacht (no cabin, sparse amenities such as refrigerator and plumbing)
  • Weekender yacht (one or two basic cabins, basic galley appliances and plumbing)
  • Cruising yacht (sufficient amenities to allow for living aboard for extended periods (weeks/months/years)
  • Sport Fish yacht (yacht with living amenities and sporting fishing equipment)
  • Luxury yacht (similar to the last three types of yachts, simply with more luxurious finishings/amenities)


Motor yachts typically have one or two internal combustion engines that burn diesel fuel. Biodiesel for marine propulsion is in the experimental stage (ie Earthrace). Fuel costs generally mean motor yachts are more expensive to operate than sailing yachts.

Hull type

The shape may be displacement or planing and in between. Although monohulls have long been the standard in motor yachts, multihulls are gaining in notoriety.


  • Origin of the yacht
  • Fraser, Antonia,"Royal Charles". A number of editions exist.
  • Partridge, Eric, "Origins, A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English", Greenwich House, 1983, ISBN 0-517-41425-2
  • International Sailing Federation Racing Rules of Sailing

External links

yacht in Arabic: يخت
yacht in Bulgarian: Яхта
yacht in Danish: Yacht
yacht in German: Yacht
yacht in Modern Greek (1453-): Θαλαμηγός
yacht in Esperanto: Jaĥto
yacht in Spanish: Yate
yacht in Estonian: Jaht (laevandus)
yacht in Finnish: Jahti
yacht in French: Yacht
yacht in Hebrew: יאכטה
yacht in Croatian: Jahta
yacht in Indonesian: Yacht
yacht in Icelandic: Lystisnekkja
yacht in Italian: Panfilo
yacht in Japanese: ヨット
yacht in Lithuanian: Jachta
yacht in Dutch: Jacht (scheepstype)
yacht in Norwegian: Lystbåt
yacht in Polish: Jacht
yacht in Portuguese: Iate
yacht in Russian: Яхта
yacht in Serbo-Croatian: Jahta
yacht in Swedish: Jakt (segelfartyg)
yacht in Turkish: Yat
yacht in Vietnamese: Du thuyền
yacht in Yiddish: יאכט
yacht in Chinese: 遊艇
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