from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A strong, large-diameter, heavy steel or fiber rope.
  • noun Something that resembles such steel or fiber rope.
  • noun Electricity A bound or sheathed group of mutually insulated conductors.
  • noun A sheathed bundle of optical fibers.
  • noun A heavy rope or chain for mooring or anchoring a ship.
  • noun A cable length.
  • noun Cable television.
  • noun A similar service providing Internet access.
  • noun A cablegram.
  • adjective Of or relating to a subscription television or Internet service that uses cables to carry signals between local distribution antennas and the subscriber's location.
  • intransitive verb To send a cablegram to.
  • intransitive verb To transmit (a message) by telegraph.
  • intransitive verb To supply or fasten with a cable or cables.
  • intransitive verb To send a cablegram.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To fasten with a cable.
  • In architecture, to fill (the flutes of columns) with cables or cylindrical pieces.
  • [Cf. equiv. wire, verb] To transmit by a telegraph-cable.
  • To send a message by a telegraph-cable.
  • noun A rope.
  • noun Specifically A large, strong rope or chain, such as is used to hold a vessel at anchor.
  • noun See submarine cable, below.
  • noun The traction-rope of a cable-railroad.
  • noun In architecture: A molding of the torus kind, with its surface cut in imitation of the twisting of a rope.
  • noun A cylindrical molding inserted in the flute of a column and partly filling it.
  • To make into a cable; specifically, to twist two threads together and then to twist, three of these doubled threads into one, as in the manufacture of sewing-thread.
  • noun A long, narrow strip of land.
  • noun A cablegram; a cable message: as, a cable announcing their departure has just been received.
  • noun An abbreviation of cable-car: as, to take the cable up-town.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To fasten with a cable.
  • transitive verb (Arch.) To ornament with cabling. See Cabling.
  • verb Recent To telegraph by a submarine cable.
  • noun A large, strong rope or chain, of considerable length, used to retain a vessel at anchor, and for other purposes. It is made of hemp, of steel wire, or of iron links.
  • noun A rope of steel wire, or copper wire, usually covered with some protecting or insulating substance.
  • noun (Arch) A molding, shaft of a column, or any other member of convex, rounded section, made to resemble the spiral twist of a rope; -- called also cable molding.
  • noun the cable belonging to the bower anchor.
  • noun a railway on which the cars are moved by a continuously running endless rope operated by a stationary motor.
  • noun the length of a ship's cable. Cables in the merchant service vary in length from 100 to 140 fathoms or more; but as a maritime measure, a cable's length is either 120 fathoms (720 feet), or about 100 fathoms (600 feet, an approximation to one tenth of a nautical mile).
  • noun A coil of a cable.
  • noun the cable belonging to the sheet anchor.
  • noun a hawser or rope, smaller than the bower cables, to moor a ship in a place sheltered from wind and heavy seas.
  • noun See Telegraph.
  • noun to slacken it, that it may run out of the ship; to let more cable run out of the hawse hole.
  • noun to bind it round with ropes, canvas, etc., to prevent its being, worn or galled in the hawse, et.
  • noun to let go the end on board and let it all run out and go overboard, as when there is not time to weigh anchor. Hence, in sailor's use, to die.


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

[Middle English, from Old North French, from Late Latin capulum, lasso, from Latin capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Recorded since c.1205, from Old Northern French, from Medieval Latin capulum ("lasso, rope, halter"), from Latin capiō ("to take, seize").


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  • A unit of distance formerly used at sea. The traditional U.S. mariner's cable was 120 fathoms long (720 ft, 0.1185 nautical mile, or about 219.4 meters). The British Admiralty, in 1830, defined the cable to equal exactly 0.1 nautical (Admiralty) mile (608 feet or about 185.3 meters). Some navies are now using a metric cable equal to exactly 200 meters (about 656.17 ft).

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