Battleship is a generic term for a powerful capital ship carrying the mantle of the "Ship of the Line" from the days of sail: large size, heavy armament, and heavy armour protection.
We use the term a little loosely on the site to address the fact that the ships which assumed this role underwent a variety of name changes over the era and the preceding decades: ironclad, turret ship, battleship, dreadnought.
The launch of H.M.S. Dreadnought in 1906 introduced changes so fundamental in battleship design that her name became a generic term for later designs that inherited her qualities: dreadnoughts. At the same time, earlier battleships needed a new term to highlight the fact that they embodied the old principles of design, and so the ships that had formerly been known as "battleships" became pre-dreadnoughts.
Our Use of the Term
We will use the word "battleship" as a generic term that doesn't indicate whether the ship(s) in question were dreadnoughts or pre-dreadnoughts. Sometimes this will be expressed a "dreadnought battleships" to specify that the ships are not battlecruisers, which were sometimes described as a subtype of dreadnought.
- List of battleships (loosely defined)
- List of battleship classes (loosely defined)
- The National Archives. ADM 116/878.