From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
1. (Naut.) A vessel propelled by oars, whether having masts and sails or not; as: (a) A large vessel for war and national purposes; -- common in the Middle Ages, and down to the 17th century. (b) A name given by analogy to the Greek, Roman, and other ancient vessels propelled by oars. (c) A light, open boat used on the Thames by customhouse officers, press gangs, and also for pleasure. (d) One of the small boats carried by a man-of-war.
Note: The typical galley of the Mediterranean was from one hundred to two hundred feet long, often having twenty oars on each side. It had two or three masts rigged with lateen sails, carried guns at prow and stern, and a complement of one thousand to twelve hundred men, and was very efficient in mediaeval warfare. Galleons, galliots, galleasses, half galleys, and quarter galleys were all modifications of this type.
4. [F. gal['e]e; the same word as E. galley a vessel.] (Print.) (a) An oblong tray of wood or brass, with upright sides, for holding type which has been set, or is to be made up, etc. (b) A proof sheet taken from type while on a galley; a galley proof.
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