- ship (n.)
- Old English scip "ship, boat," from Proto-Germanic *skipam (cf. Old Norse, Old Saxon, Gothic skip, Danish skib, Swedish skepp, Middle Dutch scip, Dutch schip, Old High German skif, German Schiff), "Germanic noun of obscure origin" [Watkins]. Others suggest perhaps originally "tree cut out or hollowed out," and derive it from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split."
The Old English word was used for small craft as well; in 19c., distinct from a boat in having a bowsprit and three masts, each with a lower, top, and topgallant mast. French esquif, Italian schifo are Germanic loan-words. Phrase ships that pass in the night is from Longfellow's poem "Elizabeth" in "Tales of a Wayside Inn" (1863). Figurative use of nautical runs a tight ship (i.e., one that does not leak) is attested from 1965.
- ship (v.)
- c.1300, "to send or transport by ship," from ship (n.). Transferred to other means of conveyance (railroad, etc.) from 1857, originally American English. Related: Shipped; shipping.