American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The strap of a horse's harness that connects the girth to the noseband and is designed to prevent the horse from throwing back its head.
- n. Nautical Any of several parts of standing rigging strengthening the bowsprit and jib boom against the force of the head stays.
- n. Games A method of gambling in which one doubles the stakes after each loss.
- n. A loose half belt or strap placed on the back of a garment, such as a coat or jacket.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In a horse's harness, a strap passing between the fore legs, fastened at one end to the girth under the belly, and at the other to the bit or the musrol, or forked and ending in two rings through which the reins are passed, intended to hold down the head of the horse. See cut under harness.
- n. Nautical, a short perpendicular spar under the bowsprit-end, used for guying down the headstays. Also called dolphin-striker. See cut under dolphin-striker.
- n. A mode of play in such games as rouge et noir which consists in staking double the amount of money lost.
- n. In fencing, a bit of twine, fastened to the hilt of a foil, which is caught round one finger of the sword hand to prevent the foil from falling to the ground in case of disarmament.
- n. A piece of harness used on a horse to keep it from raising its head above a desired point.
- n. nautical A spar, or piece of rigging that strengthens the bowsprit.
- n. mathematics A stochastic process relating random variables to earlier values
- n. A gambling strategy in which one doubles the stake after each loss.
- n. fencing A strap attached to the sword handle, preventing a sword being dropped if disarmed.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A strap fastened to a horse's girth, passing between his fore legs, and fastened to the bit, or now more commonly ending in two rings, through which the reins pass. It is intended to hold down the head of the horse, and prevent him from rearing.
- n. (Naut.) A lower stay of rope or chain for the jib boom or flying jib boom, fastened to, or reeved through, the dolphin striker. Also, the dolphin striker itself.
- n. (Gambling), Cant The act of doubling, at each stake, that which has been lost on the preceding stake; also, the sum so risked; -- metaphorically derived from the bifurcation of the
martingaleof a harness. Called also Martingale strategy. Such a betting strategy does not change the overall likelihood of winning, but in a short run it increases the probability of winning a small sum, balancing it against an increased probability of losing a large sum.
- n. a harness strap that connects the nose piece to the girth; prevents the horse from throwing back its head
- n. spar under the bowsprit of a sailboat
- French, perhaps alteration of Spanish almártaga, almártiga, rein, harness, perhaps of Arabic origin. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Under all bowsprits on schooners, to guy the headstays, thrusts downward a short spar, at right angles to the bowsprit; it is called the martingale or dolphin-striker.”
“Your example of 'martingale' is a good one - I vaguely know that it's a piece of horse harness, but I don't know exactly where it goes, what it does or why it matters.”
“Discovering that his martingale had more slack in it than usual, he proceeded to give an exhibition of rearing and hind-leg walking.”
“After ten hopeless minutes of it, Daylight slipped off and tightened the martingale, whereupon Bob gave an exhibition of angelic goodness.”
“He shook his head at the martingale, but yielded to the dealer's advice and allowed it to go on.”
“And just before he arrived back at the stable he capped the day with a combined whirling and rearing that broke the martingale and enabled him to gain a perpendicular position on his hind legs.”
“One pair of eyes would be enough to satisfy when the martingale parted and the mare reared and toppled backward upon him into the brush.”
“Her restless head-tossing and pitching attempts to rear (thwarted by the martingale) never ceased, save when she pranced and sidled and tried to whirl.”
“Her back hit the stem and seemed just barely to scrape the martingale, yet the Mary Turner sat down till the sea washed level with her stern-rail.”
“I decide to make it a cycle using the same martingale system.”
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