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from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Nautical, on men-of-war, a pair of strong frames of oak made in the form of a gallows, fixed between the fore and main hatchways, with concave cross-beams called gallows-tops tenoned on to the uprights, to support spare topmasts, yards, booms, boats, etc. Also called gallows, gallows-frame, gallows-stanchions.


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  • "The tail man had barely time to whip a turn round the gallows-bitts before the stout line was twanging taut, the hook well home, and the shark threshing madly under the starboard quarter..."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 130

    A Sea of Words: A wooden frame used by fishing boats under sail to rest their masts on when they stopped to work their nets. (209)

    February 20, 2008