schooner (skōō´nər), sailing vessel, rigged fore-and-aft, with from two to seven masts. Schooners can lie closer to the wind than square-rigged sailing ships, need a smaller crew, and are very fast. They were first constructed in colonial America and because of their speed became one of the favorite craft of the United States and Canada in the latter half of the 18th cent. and the first half of the 19th cent. Schooners were widely used in the North Atlantic fisheries and the North American coastal trade until World War I, when they were replaced by power-driven craft.
See H. I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships (1935); J. F. Leavitt, Wake of the Coasters (1970); N. Haley, The Schooner Era (1972).