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

  • n. A machine for hoisting and moving heavy objects, consisting of a movable boom equipped with cables and pulleys and connected to the base of an upright stationary beam.
  • n. A tall framework over a drilled hole, especially an oil well, used to support boring equipment or hoist and lower lengths of pipe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A device that is used for lifting and moving large objects
  • n. A framework that is constructed over a mine or oil well for the purpose of boring or lowering pipes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mast, spar, or tall frame, supported at the top by stays or guys, and usually pivoted at the base, with suitable tackle for hoisting heavy weights, such as stones in building.
  • n. The pyramidal structure or tower over a deep drill hole, such as that of an oil well (also called an oil derrick .

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An apparatus for lifting and moving heavy weights.
  • n. The overhead framework used in drilling the holes for oil-wells, and which remains in place after the boring is completed and the drilling machinery is removed.

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

  • n. a simple crane having lifting tackle slung from a boom
  • n. a framework erected over an oil well to allow drill tubes to be raised and lowered


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

Obsolete derick, hangman, gallows, after Derick, 16th-century English hangman.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Derived from the name of British executioner Thomas Derrick, who invented the framework arrangement commonly known by this name to aid in the conduct of executions.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • With hands like derricks,

    Looks fierce and black as rooks

    from "The Queen's Complaint," Sylvia Plath

    April 14, 2008

  • Hey...that is surprisingly eponymous!

    December 17, 2007

  • From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

    "c.1600, originally "hangman," then "a gallows," then "hoist, crane" (1727), from surname of a hangman at Tyburn gallows, London, c.1606-1608, often referred to in contemporary theater."

    December 17, 2007