from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Nautical A rope attached to the weather leech of a square sail to hold the leech forward when sailing close-hauled.
  • noun A knot forming a loop that does not slip.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Nautical, a rope leading forward and fastened to the leech of a square sail.
  • noun In ship-building, a curve representing a vertical section of the bow-end of a ship.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Naut.) A rope fastened near the middle of the leech or perpendicular edge of the square sails, by subordinate ropes, called bridles, and used to keep the weather edge of the sail tight forward, when the ship is closehauled.
  • noun the ropes by which the bowline is fastened to the leech of the sail.
  • noun See Illust. under Knot.
  • noun close-hauled or sailing close to the wind; -- said of a ship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun nautical a knot tied so as to produce an eye or loop in the end of a rope; it will not slip or jam

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a loop knot that neither slips nor jams


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English bouline, probably from Middle Danish bovline or Middle Low German bōlīne, both from Middle Low German bōch līne : bōch, bow; see bheug- in Indo-European roots + līne, line (from Latin līnea; see line).]


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  • A loop knot used by boaters to make a secure loop at the end of a rope. It doesn't slip or bind under load and can be untied easily with no load. Two bowlines can be linked together to join two ropes.

    January 9, 2008