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

  • n. A girth that binds a saddle, pack, or blanket to the body of a horse.
  • n. Archaic The fastening belt on a clerical cassock; a cincture.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a long unpadded strap to pass over and keep in place a blanket, pack or saddle on an animal
  • n. a piece of tack wrapped around the belly of a horse, to use when longeing, also know as lungeing; (roller in UK and Australasia)
  • n. a girdle to fasten a garment, especially a cassock

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A belt, band, or girth which passes over a saddle, or over anything laid on a horse's back, to bind it fast.
  • n. The girdle of a cassock, by which it is fastened round the waist.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To gird or surround with a surcingle, as a horse.
  • To secure by means of a surcingle, as a blanket or the saddle.
  • n. A girth for a horse; especially, a girth separate from the saddle and passing around the body of the horse, retaining in place a blanket, a sheet, or the like, by passing over it.
  • n. The girdle with which a garment, especially a cassock, is fastened. Compare cincture.
  • n. Same as cauda striati (which see, under cauda).


Middle English sursengle, from Old French surcengle : sur-, sur- + cengle, belt (from Latin cingula, from cingere, to gird; see cingulum).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French surcengle, formed with sur ("over") and cengle ("girdle"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "'Mama said you would certainly come up and try it on.'

    'There is no need ... Yet I may come up when George and I have finished this surcingle.'

    'Then please may we open the epaulette-case?'"
    --P. O'Brian, The Commodore, 57

    March 16, 2008

  • Another relative of "cingular" is "surcingle", meaning a belt or girth,
    and used quite memorably by Emily Dickinson in this poem:

    Bees are Black, with Gilt Surcingles --
    Buccaneers of Buzz.
    Ride abroad in ostentation
    And subsist on Fuzz.
    Fuzz ordained -- not Fuzz contingent --
    Marrows of the Hill.
    Jugs -- a Universe's fracture
    Could not jar or spill.

    - from AWADmail Issue 292

    February 4, 2008