Definitions

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

  • n. Nautical A square bar used as a support for a topmast.
  • n. A large tapering pin used to open the strands of a rope before splicing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A pointed tool without any sharp edges, used in weaving or knotwork to tighten and form up weaves or complex knots; used in sailing ships to open the strands of a rope before splicing. Compare marlinespike.
  • n. A square bar of wood or iron, with a shoulder at one end, to support the weight of the topmast (on a ship).
  • n. A plug of oakum for the vent of a gun.
  • n. A small thick piece of anything.
  • n. A wooden or metal bar or pin, used to support or steady anything.
  • n. A naval euphemism for "penis", derived from the similarity of each of the above to the male reproductive organ.
  • v. To support a topmast using a fid.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A square bar of wood or iron, used to support the topmast, being passed through a hole or mortise at its heel, and resting on the trestle trees.
  • n. A wooden or metal bar or pin, used to support or steady anything.
  • n. A pin of hard wood, tapering to a point, used to open the strands of a rope in splicing.
  • n. A block of wood used in mounting and dismounting heavy guns.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Nautical, to sway into place and secure (a topmast or topgallantmast) by its fid. Also fidd.
  • n. A small thick lump.
  • n. A piece or plug of tobacco.
  • n. A bar of wood or metal used to support or steady anything.
  • n. Nautical: A square bar of wood or iron, with a shoulder at one end, used to support a topmast or topgallantmast when swayed up into place. The fid passes through a square hole in the heel of its mast, and its ends rest on the trestletrees.
  • n. A conical pin of hard wood, from 12 to 24 inches long, and from 1 to 3 inches in diameter at the butt, used to open the strands of rope in splicing.

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Origin unknown. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Often used in combination with "hand", as in "Hand fid".

    February 16, 2011

  • A fid is "A square bar of wood or iron with a shoulder at one end, used to support the weight of the topmast and also the topgallantmast. Also, a tapered hand tool for opening up the strands of a rope when splicing." (A Sea of Words, 191) See also fid-hole, just because it ain't what it sounds like.

    February 23, 2008

  • "...the court would have heard a lively description of the Honourable Sod's furious assault upon the Captain with a brace of pistols, a boarding-axe, a naked sword and a topmast fid..."
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 143

    February 13, 2008