- a small Spanish or Portuguese sailing vessel of the Middle Ages and later, usually lateen-rigged on two or three masts.
1527, from M.Fr. caravelle, from Port. caravela dim. of caravo "small vessel," from L.L. carabus "small wicker boat covered with leather," from Gk. karabos, lit. "beetle, lobster."
"To make boats, Andean cultures wove together reeds rather than cutting up trees into planks and nailing them together. Although smaller than big European ships, these vessels were not puddle-muddlers; Europeans first encountered Tawantinsuyu in the form of an Inka ship sailing near the equator, three hundred miles from its home port, under a load of fine cotton sails. It had a crew of twenty and was easily the size of a Spanish caravelle."
- Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus