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

  • n. A cable or rope used in mooring or towing a ship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a cable or heavy rope used to tow or moor a ship

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large rope made of three strands each containing many yarns.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nautical, a cable; especially, a small cable, or a large rope in size between a cable and a tow-line, used in warping, etc.

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

  • n. large heavy rope for nautical use


Middle English, from Anglo-Norman haucer, from Old French haucier, to hoist, from Vulgar Latin *altiāre, alteration of Late Latin altāre, from Latin altus, high; see al-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • The word hawser has nothing whatever to do with the verb to hoist; neither does the ` N.E.D. 'say that it has.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XVIII No 1

  • The hawser is a thick rope, or cable, to which the lifebuoy is suspended when in action.

    Battles with the Sea

  • I was concerned that the standard garage door was not secure enough and wanted to give him extra locking facility for the cycle - so I screwed a padlock type hasp into the wall inside the garage - then provided a steel 'hawser' type rope (from a cycle shop) for him to lock the bike up to, which threaded through the large hasp.

    Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian |

  • I, too, by this time, was standing on the big hawser-bitts in a position to see a man in the water who seemed deliberately swimming away from the ship.


  • Instead, however, I gave her still more hawser, veered her, and dropped the second anchor.


  • By two in the morning our shrouds were thrumming in a piping breeze, and I got up and gave her more scope on her hawser.


  • We bent all our spare lines; we unrove sheets and halyards; we used our two-inch hawser; we fastened lines part way up the mast, half way up, and everywhere else.


  • Wriggling close to the hawser, he opened his jack-knife and went to work.

    The Lost Poacher

  • While this was being done, the boat plied back and forth between the two vessels, passing a heavy hawser, which was made fast to the great towing-bitts on the schooner's forecastle-head.

    The Lost Poacher

  • He saw the Mary Thomas swing abruptly into line as she took the pressure from the hawser, and her side-lights, red and green, rose and fell as she was towed through the sea.

    The Lost Poacher

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