Definitions

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

  • n. A hanging, easily swung length of canvas or heavy netting suspended between two trees or other supports and used as a seat or bed.
  • n. Variant of hummock.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A swinging couch or bed, usually made of netting or canvas about six feet wide, suspended by clews or cords at the ends.
  • n. A piece of land thickly wooded, and usually covered with bushes and vines.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A swinging couch or bed, usually made of netting or canvas about six feet long and three feet wide, suspended by clews or cords at the ends.
  • n. A piece of land thickly wooded, and usually covered with bushes and vines. Used also adjectively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A kind of hanging bed.
  • n. In entomology, the hammock-like sack or case carried by the larvæ of certain tineid moths, as Œcophora harrisiella, hence called case-bearers.
  • n. See hummock.

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

  • n. a small natural hill
  • n. a hanging bed of canvas or rope netting (usually suspended between two trees); swings easily

Etymologies

Spanish hamaca, from Taino.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish hamaca, from Taino. Columbus, in the narrative of his first voyage, says: “A great many Indians in canoes came to the ship to-day for the purpose of bartering their cotton, and hamacas, or nets, in which they sleep.” (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "Hammocks used at sea, especially on men-of-war, are made of canvas, and have a number of cords at each end, called clues, which are brought together and secured to an iron ring, which is hung on a hook attached to the deck-beams. Those used in the tropical parts of America and in summer in the north are usually formed of a network of Panama grass or small cords."

    --from the Century Dictionary

    September 24, 2010

  • Interesting historical note: When Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, the first indigenous people he encountered were the Taino people on the island of Hispanola. The Tainos were wiped out before much could be documented about their culture, but a word of their vocabulary made it into the journals of Columbus' crew and into the English language. Thus, the word "hammock" is perhaps the only surviving remnant of this culture.

    April 28, 2008