from The Century Dictionary.
- noun The spar to which the head of the fore-and-aft mainsail is bent.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
A broadside howled above the dancing spray -- it rumbled from the port-holes of the Englishman -- cutting the foremast of the pirate in two; severing the jaws of the main-gaff; and sending great clods of rigging to the deck.
Charley greeted a big blue-shirted Swede who was greasing the jaws of the main-gaff with a piece of pork-rind.
"Why, if we had time we'd run you up at your own main-gaff you old land-shark," shouted another.
I have lost my larboard cat-head, my jib-boom, second topmast, main-gaff, bowsprit shot through, and the engine requires various repairs -- the steam waste-pipe is completely gone, and I must get another made.
The broadside, too much elevated to hit the low hull of the schooner, was still not without effect -- the foretopmast fell, the jaws of the main-gaff were severed, and a large proportion of the standing as well as the running rigging came rattling down on her decks.
Whether the ship had surrendered or not it was impossible to say, as it was too dark to distinguish: while the long gun was served, the foretop-mast and main-gaff had been shifted, and all the standing and running rigging made good; the schooner keeping her distance, and following in the wake of the ship until daylight.