In English, we have many words to describe the different types of vessels that travel on water:

  • boat
  • ship
  • yacht
  • dinghy
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • raft
  • watercraft
  • vessel
  • sailboat
  • barge
  • catamaran
  • lifeboat/liferaft
  • and other less common terms

Do these have direct translations into Spanish?

Also, what are the most common generic terms for a boat or ship, and what are the differences between them?

1 Answer 1


boat: barco, barca (smaller)

ship: barco, buque

yacht: yate

dinghy: bote neumático

canoe: canoa

kayak: Kayac

raft: balsa (Floating platform, originally formed by timbers together)

watercraft: embarcaciones (generic)

vessel: navío

sailboat: velero

barge: barcaza

catamaran: catamarán

lifeboat/liferaft: bote salvavidas

The generic word for describe a board/ship in Spain is barco. But if you want do be more specific you could use other words like ship.

  • 1
    I didn't know the word dinghy, but it seems it's a bote, not necessarily neumático.
    – MikMik
    Jan 19, 2012 at 7:15
  • 1
    How does lancha fit in here?
    – jrdioko
    Feb 2, 2012 at 18:45
  • 1
    @jrdioko "lancha" is a motorboat
    – Javi
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:15
  • "dinghy: bote neumático" - sorry, that's just wrong. "bote neumático" is inflatable boat.
    – vartec
    Feb 3, 2012 at 16:50
  • "boat" can also be called "bote".
    – Arunabh
    Jul 5, 2022 at 19:33

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