from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Loose hemp or jute fiber, sometimes treated with tar, creosote, or asphalt, used chiefly for caulking seams in wooden ships and packing pipe joints.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A material, consisting of tarred fibres, used to caulk or pack joints in plumbing, masonry, and wooden shipbuilding.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The material obtained by untwisting and picking into loose fiber old hemp ropes; -- used for calking the seams of ships, stopping leaks, etc.
- n. The coarse portion separated from flax or hemp in nackling.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The coarse part separated from flax or hemp in hackling; tow.
- n. Junk or old ropes untwisted, and picked into loose fibers resembling tow: used for calking the seams of ships, stopping leaks, etc. That made from untarred ropes is called white oakum.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. loose hemp or jute fiber obtained by unravelling old ropes; when impregnated with tar it was used to caulk seams and pack joints in wooden ships
Middle English okom, from Old English ācumba; see gembh- in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English okome, from Old English ācumba ("oakum", literally "that which has been combed out, off-combings"), a derivative of ācemban ("to comb out"), from Proto-Germanic *uz- + *kambijanan (“to comb”), from Proto-Indo-European *uds-, *ūd- (“out”) + Proto-Indo-European *ǵombʰ-, *ǵembʰ- (“tooth, nail; to pierce, gnaw through”). More at out, comb. (Wiktionary)