The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Frigate \Frig"ate\, n. [F. fr['e]gate, It. fregata, prob.
contracted fr. L. fabricata something constructed or built.
1. Originally, a vessel of the Mediterranean propelled by
sails and by oars. The French, about 1650, transferred the
name to larger vessels, and by 1750 it had been
appropriated for a class of war vessels intermediate
between corvettes and ships of the line. Frigates, from
about 1750 to 1850, had one full battery deck and, often,
a spar deck with a lighter battery. They carried sometimes
as many as fifty guns. After the application of steam to
navigation steam frigates of largely increased size and
power were built, and formed the main part of the navies
of the world till about 1870, when the introduction of
ironclads superseded them. [Formerly spelled frigat and
2. Any small vessel on the water. [Obs.] --Spenser.
Frigate bird (Zool.), a web-footed rapacious bird, of the
genus Fregata; -- called also man-of-war bird, and
frigate pelican. Two species are known; that of the
Southern United States and West Indies is F. aquila.
They are remarkable for their long wings and powerful
flight. Their food consists of fish which they obtain by
robbing gulls, terns, and other birds, of their prey. They
are related to the pelicans.
Frigate mackerel (Zool.), an oceanic fish (Auxis Rochei)
of little or no value as food, often very abundant off the
coast of the United States.
Frigate pelican. (Zool.) Same as Frigate bird.