- All-Big-Gun: the gun outfit was reduced in variety to mount the largest number of the largest feasible and then a sufficient number of the smallest capable of fending off attack by torpedo boats.
- Speed of 20+ knots: often obtained by adoption of turbine propulsion as opposed to the earlier norm of V.T.E. propulsion.
- Increase in armor protection to a belt thickness of at least 11 or 12 inches
The coining of the term "dreadnought" as a generic description of modern battleships immediately relegated battleships conforming to the earlier norm the collective appellation of "Pre-Dreadnought". At the same time as battleships were being "reborn", the Battlecruiser type was being inaugurated by the launch of H.M.S. Invincible.
In 1881 the Captain of the battleship Inflexible was John Fisher. He was visited by a young Admiralty constructor by the name of Philip Watts who had designed rolling tanks which were being installed in Inflexible. While this work was being done, Watts and Fisher discussed the possibility of a vessel similar to the 16-inch 80 ton gunned Inflexible which had an additional centre-line turret at either end - in essence one of the first suggestions of an all-big-gun ship. Watts later recounted:
I left Inflexible shortly before the bombardment of Alexandria. I brought away with me an outline design which had been evolved during the cruise and which was described as a combination of the Devastation and Inflexible designs. The armament was an "all big gun armament" of 4 pairs of 16-in. 80-ton guns mounted in turrets, all placed on the upper deck; one pair at each extremity of the vessel on the middle line, as in Devastation, and one pair placed on each broadside en échelon as in the Inflexible.
Due to the envisaged weight of the projected ship, 16,000 tons, the Director of Naval Construction Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, did not approve the idea.
The first workable turbine design had been patented by The Honourable Charles A. Parsons in 1884. The turbine was originally designed to drive dynamos, and a 12kW unit, No. 13, was installed in H.M.S. Victoria in 1885, and replaced in 1886 by No. 25. Parsons in 1894 set up the Marine Steam Turbine Company at Wallsend, and after a number of model tests he built the Turbinia. Initially built with one screw driven by one turbine, she was redesigned in 1896 with another two shafts and another two turbines. She reached 34.5 knots on trials, which were attended by the Director of Naval Construction, Sir William H. White, and the Engineer-in-Chief, John Durston. Probably encouraged by Durston, Parsons demonstrated the Turbinia at the Naval Review celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
- Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects (1919). p. 3.
- Brown. "DREADNOUGHT". p. 51.
- Brown. Warrior to Dreadnought. p. 183.