Definition of Yacht

The prestige attached to yachts today belies their pirate-related history. The word “yacht” has its roots in a Dutch word meaning “fast pirate ship”.

Today, a yacht is a luxurious sailboat, sometimes powered, which is rigged out for recreational fishing, racing or cruising.

yacht displaying underwater lights

Yachts fall into several categories based on size, purpose, and design.

In broad strokes, they can be grouped into:

  • Motor yachts: Powered by engines and typically have larger living spaces, more amenities, and higher speed capabilities than sailing yachts
  • Sailing yachts: Use wind power to move and are popular among sailing enthusiasts who enjoy the challenge and serenity of sailing
  • Catamarans: Have two hulls instead of one, which provides more stability and living space; they are popular among families, groups of friends, and people who want to charter a yacht for a vacation
  • Mega yachts: Largest and most luxurious yachts, often exceeding 100 feet in length and featuring amenities such as pools, helipads, and multiple decks
  • Expedition yachts: Designed for long-distance cruising and exploration, with features such as reinforced hulls, icebreakers, and self-sustaining systems
  • Sportfishing yachts: Designed for fishing enthusiasts, with features such as fishing gear, live bait wells, and fish lockers
  • Trawler yachts: Intended for long-range cruising at a slower pace, with fuel-efficient engines and spacious living areas
  • Open yachts: Target speed and agility, with open decks and sleek lines that appeal to adrenaline-seeking boaters

Size is a key factor that differentiates yachts from other boats. To qualify as a yacht, a vessel has to be at least 30 feet long and luxurious. The superyacht category starts at 78 feet, which includes most motor yachts. Megayachts are typically over 260 feet long.

The biggest known yacht to date is a whopping 590 feet, which brings us to another notable feature of yachts—the luxury.

It would take days to break down the luxury components in yachts. Suffice it to say, yacht owners pull no stops when it comes to outfitting their vessels whether it be splurging on decorative underwater lights or making sure the boat’s interior lights are equally top-notch.

Example of Yacht in a Sentence

"At 590 feet long, Azzam is the longest private motor yacht in the world, powered by a mix of gas turbines and diesel engines."

Synonyms: cruiser, racer, sailboat, sloop, ketch, cabin cruiser, yawl

Related Terms for Yacht