brig, two-masted sailing vessel, square-rigged on both masts. Brigs have been used as cargo ships and also, in the past, as small warships carrying about 10 guns. They vary in length between 75 and 130 ft (23–40 m), with tonnages up to 350. A brigantine is a somewhat smaller two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast but with a fore-and-aft mainsail. In earlier times it carried a square topsail on the mainmast. A hermaphrodite brig is identical with the brigantine except that it carries no topsail on its mainmast; most U.S. brigs since 1860 have actually been of this type.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.