Definitions

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

  • n. A beam projecting outward from the bow of a ship and used as a support to lift the anchor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A heavy piece of timber projecting from each side of the bow of a ship for holding anchors which were fitted with a stock in position for letting go or for securing after weighing.
  • n. Similar rigging on the outside of a building.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A projecting piece of timber or iron near the bow of vessel, to which the anchor is hoisted and secured.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Nautical, to attach to the cat-head.
  • n. A large timber or heavyiron beam projecting from each bow of a ship, and having sheaves in its outer end.
  • n. In mining, a small capstan.
  • n. Nodular or ball ironstone.
  • n. An attachment to a lathe to assist in supporting long bars when they are being turned.

Etymologies

Obsolete cat, catboat + head.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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  • "In that case proceed to the cathead at the fore of the ship, as per tradition, and keep an eye on Mr. Tart."
    A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch, p 149

    January 5, 2012

  • "...and when she was moving perhaps as fast as she had ever moved, with her lee cathead well under the foam of her bow-wave, he laid one hand on the hances, feeling the deep note of her hull as he might have felt the vibrations of his fiddle..."
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 352

    February 23, 2008

  • A projection near the bow of a ship to which the anchor is secured.

    February 15, 2008