American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Nautical An apparatus used for hoisting weights, consisting of a vertical spool-shaped cylinder that is rotated manually or by machine and around which a cable is wound.
- n. A small cylindrical shaft used to drive magnetic tape at a constant speed in a tape recorder.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An apparatus working on the principle of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights or applying power. It consists of an upright barrel, either smooth or having ribs called whelps, which are arranged about a spindle. Above the barrel is the capstan-head, which has holes to receive the ends of levers or bars by which the barrel is revolved. At the bottom of the barrel is a pawl-head, with pawls to catch a ratchet-ring or pawl-rim, which is secured to the floor or platform. A capstan differs from a windlass in having a vertical instead of a horizontal axis. The capstan employed to draw coal from pits is usually called a gin, and when worked by horses a whim-gin. On board ship it is used for weighing the anchor, warping ship, etc.
- n. nautical A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.
- n. electronics A rotating spindle used to move recording tape through the mechanism of a tape recorder.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.
- n. a windlass rotated in a horizontal plane around a vertical axis; used on ships for weighing anchor or raising heavy sails
- French cabestan, from Spanish cabestrante, cabrestante, from cabestrar to bind with a halter, from cabestrohalter, from Latin capistrum halter, from capere to hold (see capacious); or perhaps the Spanish is from Latin caper goat + -stans, present participle of stare to stand; confer French chèvre she-goat, also a machine for raising heavy weights. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Norman French, from Old Provençal cabestan, from cabestre, noose, from Latin capistrum, halter, probably from capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Aside from a large winch, called a capstan, and various blocks and pulleys to take off some of the strain, eighteenth-century sailing ships relied on brute man power.”
“The sailors had tied their prisoner with ropes to the heavy iron wheel in the stern of the boat called a capstan; so that as he moved he would be obliged to drag it round and thus help to work the ship.”
“The best, like all good things, has gone for ever, and this best way was for a thing called a capstan to have sticking out from it, movable, and fitted into its upper rim, other things called capstan -- bars.”
“A small, strong raft, it may be forty feet square, with an upright windlass in its centre, called a capstan, is fastened to some part of the boom.”
“Directly abaft the capstan was the fore-hatch, over which lay the path of those who walked around at the bars.”
“Also crazy "capstan" control of your reel-to-reel for early time-stretch, which, if you can understand it, makes time travel seem possible after all.”
“In these kind of capstan-head court-martials, at which captains will sometimes administer reefers 'law, "Woe to the weakest!”
“Loaded down, Logan and Rytlock staggered out the cabin door and seated themselves on the capstan.”
“We have verified that the intrinsic resolution of these images is going to be very high, to be quantified further after we get the demod at 100% and the capstan motor replaced.”
“He knew in all absoluteness that he was choosing between life and death, and he limped over to the capstan and found his place.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘capstan’.
includes words of the "Prodcom list"
From Notre Dame de Paris by good ole Victor Hugo. (Also called The Hunchback of Notre Dame.)
Words in Melville's "Moby Dick"
Words rounded up while reading The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.
A list of favorite nautical words to be sprinkled liberally throughout speech for piratical or Melvillian effect.
A list of words whose meanings I am learning, either because a) I don't know the meaning b) I know the meaning, but could stand to better appreciate certain inflections or secondary meanings or c) ...
Words I've come across while reading and looked up in the dictionary.
Words and phrases from Scott Lynch's book, The Lies of Locke Lamora
being items related to boats, ships, sailing, nautical and naval lore &c.
Durable items invented by Hom. Sap.
Looking for tweets for capstan.