- a small Spanish or Portuguese sailing vessel of the Middle Ages and later, usually lateen-rigged on two or three masts.
- a two- or three-masted sailing ship, esp one with a broad beam, high poop deck, and lateen rig that was used by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries
1520s, from Middle French caravelle (15c.), from Spanish carabela or Portuguese caravela, diminutive of caravo “small vessel,” from Late Latin carabus “small wicker boat covered with leather,” from Greek karabos, literally “beetle, lobster” (see scarab). Earlier form carvel (early 15c.) survives in carvel-built (adj.).