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

  • noun 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.
  • noun A tall framework over a drilled hole, especially an oil well, used to support boring equipment or hoist and lower lengths of pipe.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An apparatus for lifting and moving heavy weights.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun (Mining) The pyramidal structure or tower over a deep drill hole, such as that of an oil well (also called an oil derrick .
  • noun a combination of the derrick and the crane, having facility for hoisting and also for swinging the load horizontally.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun a simple crane having lifting tackle slung from a boom
  • noun 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.


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  • 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

  • Hey...that is surprisingly eponymous!

    December 17, 2007

  • With hands like derricks,

    Looks fierce and black as rooks

    from "The Queen's Complaint," Sylvia Plath

    April 14, 2008