A very fast multiple-masted sailing ship first seen in the mid 18th century, gradually replacing galleons. As such they represent the finest development of the sailing ship in the Age of the Industrial Revolution.
The term clipper was originally applied to a fast horse - clip meaning to move fast. Clippers are built for speed rather than cargo space; while traditional merchant ships average speeds of under 5 knots, clippers aim at 9 knots or better. Sometimes these ships can reach 20 knots.