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

  • noun An oarlock.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In architecture, characterized by having its voussoirs in concentric rings, one closely adjusted to another. The rowlock arch of brick is one in which each ring of brick voussoirs is only the width of the brick, or about four inches, in depth.
  • noun A contrivance on a boat's gunwale in or on which the oar rests and swings freely in rowing.

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

  • noun (Naut.), Chiefly Brit. A contrivance or arrangement serving as a fulcrum for an oar in rowing. It consists sometimes of a notch in the gunwale of a boat, sometimes of a pair of pins between which the oar rests on the edge of the gunwale, sometimes of a single pin passing through the oar, or of a metal fork or stirrup pivoted in the gunwale and suporting the oar; same as oarlock.
  • noun One of the rings of masonry included in an arch having more than one ring.

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

  • noun nautical, chiefly UK a pivot attached to the gunwale (outrigger in a sport boat) of a boat that supports and guides an oar, and provides a fulcrum for rowing; an oarlock (mostly US).

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

  • noun a holder attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds the oar in place and acts as a fulcrum for rowing


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • He saw the boat boys knocked about, and one of them put in irons for three days with nothing to eat for the crime of breaking a rowlock while pulling.


  • Kevin Wilkinson's simple metal dinghy, propelled by a single scull from a rowlock at the stern, maintains one of the oldest crossings of the Mersey – now transferred to the canal because the nearby river itself is bridged.

    Britain's Best Views: the Mersey ferry, Liverpool

  • Their plan was as follows: The men were each to take their oar, cushion, and rowlock thong, and, going overland from Corinth to the sea on the Athenian side, to get to Megara as quickly as they could, and launching forty vessels, which happened to be in the docks at Nisaea, to sail at once to Piraeus.

    The History of the Peloponnesian War

  • Also, how easy to take from the head of Roberta two or three hairs and thread them between the sides of the camera, or about the rowlock to which her veil had been attached.

    An American Tragedy

  • And upon the boat, clinging to that rowlock a veil belonging to her.

    An American Tragedy

  • Sharpe heard a splash nearby and the groan of an oar in its rowlock.

    Sharpe's Prey

  • Jarred against the rowlock, it smashed the man's ribcage.


  • I've done one or two little jobs on her besides the rowlock.

    Five Have Plenty Of Fun

  • Two or three miles below this I had some difficulty in a rapid, as the pin of a rowlock lifted out of the socket when in the middle of rough water.

    Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico

  • The breaking of an oar, the loss of a rowlock, or the slightest knock of his rotten boat against a rock, and

    Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico


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  • "'...they must be made to understand that silence is absolutely essential—matting on the thole-pins or rowlocks, naturally, but above all no talking: not a word.'"

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque, 175

    February 29, 2008