- Dreadnought "battleship," lit. "fearing nothing," from DREAD (Cf. dread) + NOUGHT (Cf. nought). Mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy c.1596, but modern sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships mainly armed with big guns of one caliber, launched Feb. 18, 1906.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.