Definitions

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

  • n. Nautical A short line attaching an upper corner of a sail to the yard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A line used to fasten the upper corners of a sail to the yard or gaff; also called head earing.
  • n. A ploughing of land.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A line used to fasten the upper corners of a sail to the yard or gaff; -- also called head earing.
  • n. A line for hauling the reef cringle to the yard; -- also called reef earing.
  • n. A line fastening the corners of an awning to the rigging or stanchions.
  • n. Coming into ear, as corn.
  • n. A plowing of land.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small rope attached to the cringle of a sail, by which it is bent or reefed.
  • n. The forming of ears of corn.
  • n. A plowing of land. See ear.

Etymologies

Perhaps from ear1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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  • "Earings, in a ship, are certain small ropes, employed to fasten the upper corners of a sail to its respective yard; for which purpose one end of the earing is spliced to the cringle, fixed in that part of the sail, and the other end is passed six or seven times round the yardarm and through the cringle, thereby fastening the latter to the former.... Every reef on a yard has its respective earings, which are passed in the same manner...."
    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 129

    See also reef-earing.

    October 13, 2008

  • Citation on bunt.

    September 6, 2008

  • "'You and I and the Doctor must scrub ourselves from clew to earing and put on our birthday suits.'"
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen Gun Salute, 257

    "One of a number of small ropes that fasten the upper corner of a sail to the yard." —A Sea of Words, 184

    March 5, 2008