The Evolution Of The Word “Battleship”

Battleship has an interesting evolution. It originally meant “line of battle ship”, what we now know as “ships of the line” (big armed sailing ships larger than frigates). In fact, some old battleships in the German Navy were deliberately classified as “Linenschiff” (Line Ships).

In the steam age, battleship eventually meant “the biggest and most armored self-propelled ship.” So far so good. It then shifted to leftover World War II battleships that were very distinct from their later missile-age counterparts. However, the specific term has been slipping. Now “battleship” is often used as a synonym for “warship”. Many people mind this. I don’t.

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