Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
catamaran(kăt'əmərăn`), watercraft made up of two connected hulls or a single hull with two parallel keels. Originally used by the natives of Polynesia, the catamaran design was adopted by Western boat builders in the 19th cent. Because the twin hulls of the Polynesian catamaran are actually logs or other pieces of wood, the vessel is more like a raft than a boat. An extremely stable craft, it can be paddled or sailed even in the heavy waves of the S Pacific. The American Nathanael Herreshoff first built Western-type catamarans in the 1870s. The twin-hulled sailing or motor boat has since become a popular pleasure craft, largely because of its speed and stability. High-speed catamaran ferries can exceed 40 knots (74 km per hr). Catamarans range from 12 ft (3.7 m) to 315 ft (96 m) in length and are among the world's fastest sailing and motor craft.
(from Tamil kattumaram, literally “logs bound together”).
(1) A raft for short trips and fishing among peoples along the Asiatic coast of the Indian Ocean and neighboring islands, propelled by paddles or sail. Similar rafts were used by the native inhabitants of the islands of the Pacific Ocean and South America. The term “catamaran” also referred to a small paddle boat or sailing vessel consisting of several logs, hollowed out and pointed on both ends, interconnected by cross bars.
(2) A modern twin-hulled vessel (with two parallel hulls connected on the top side by trusses or a continuous deck) or single-hulled sailing vessel with one or two outlying balance floats on the side. It is exceptionally swift and stable. There are various kinds of catamarans: for sea and river fishing, carrying passengers and cargo, towing and rescue work, sports and tourism, and scientific research.