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

  • n. A short, light nail with a sharp point and a flat head.
  • n. Nautical A rope for holding down the weather clew of a course.
  • n. Nautical A rope for hauling the outer lower corner of a studdingsail to the boom.
  • n. Nautical The part of a sail, such as the weather clew of a course, to which this rope is fastened.
  • n. Nautical The lower forward corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
  • n. Nautical The position of a vessel relative to the trim of its sails.
  • n. Nautical The act of changing from one position or direction to another.
  • n. Nautical The distance or leg sailed between changes of position or direction.
  • n. A course of action meant to minimize opposition to the attainment of a goal.
  • n. An approach, especially one of a series of changing approaches.
  • n. A large, loose stitch made as a temporary binding or as a marker.
  • n. Stickiness, as that of a newly painted surface.
  • transitive v. To fasten or attach with or as if with a tack: tacked the carpet down.
  • transitive v. To fasten or mark (cloth or a seam, for example) with a loose basting stitch.
  • transitive v. To put together loosely and arbitrarily: tacked some stories together in an attempt to write a novel.
  • transitive v. To add as an extra item; append: tacked two dollars onto the bill.
  • transitive v. Nautical To bring (a vessel) into the wind in order to change course or direction.
  • intransitive v. Nautical To change the direction or course of a vessel: Stand by to tack.
  • intransitive v. Nautical To change tack: The ship tacked to starboard.
  • intransitive v. To change one's course of action.
  • n. Food, especially coarse or inferior foodstuffs.
  • n. The harness for a horse, including the bridle and saddle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small nail with a flat head.
  • n. A thumbtack.
  • n. A loose seam used to temporarily fasten pieces of cloth.
  • n. The lower corner on the leading edge of a sail relative to the direction of the wind.
  • n. A course or heading that enables a sailing vessel to head upwind. See also reach, gybe.
  • n. A direction or course of action, especially a new one.
  • n. The maneuver by which a sailing vessel turns its bow through the wind so that the wind changes from one side to the other.
  • n. The distance a sailing vessel runs between these maneuvers when working to windward; a board.
  • n. Any of the various equipment and accessories worn by horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack.
  • n. The stickiness of a compound, related to its cohesive and adhesive properties.
  • v. To nail with a tack (small nail with a flat head).
  • v. To sew/stich with a tack (loose seam used to temporarily fasten pieces of cloth).
  • v. To maneuver a sailing vessel so that its bow turns through the wind, i.e. the wind changes from one side of the vessel to the other.
  • v. To add something as an extra item.
  • v. Often with "up"", to place the tack on a horse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A stain; a tache.
  • n. A peculiar flavor or taint.
  • n. A small, short, sharp-pointed nail, usually having a broad, flat head.
  • n. That which is attached; a supplement; an appendix. See Tack, v. t., 3.
  • n.
  • n. A rope used to hold in place the foremost lower corners of the courses when the vessel is closehauled (see Illust. of Ship); also, a rope employed to pull the lower corner of a studding sail to the boom.
  • n. The part of a sail to which the tack is usually fastened; the foremost lower corner of fore-and-aft sails, as of schooners (see Illust. of Sail).
  • n. The direction of a vessel in regard to the trim of her sails; ; -- the former when she is closehauled with the wind on her starboard side; hence, the run of a vessel on one tack; also, a change of direction.
  • n. A contract by which the use of a thing is set, or let, for hire; a lease.
  • n. Confidence; reliance.
  • intransitive v. To change the direction of a vessel by shifting the position of the helm and sails; also (as said of a vessel), to have her direction changed through the shifting of the helm and sails. See tack, v. t., 4.
  • transitive v. To fasten or attach.
  • transitive v. Especially, to attach or secure in a slight or hasty manner, as by stitching or nailing
  • transitive v. In parliamentary usage, to add (a supplement) to a bill; to append; -- often with on or to.
  • transitive v. To change the direction of (a vessel) when sailing closehauled, by putting the helm alee and shifting the tacks and sails so that she will proceed to windward nearly at right angles to her former course.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fasten by tacks; join, attach, or secure by some slight or temporary fastening: as, to tack down a carpet; to tack up a curtain; to tack a shoe to the last; to tack parts of a garment together with pins or by basting preparatory to sewing.
  • To attach by some binding force; make a junction or union of; connect; combine: as, to tack a rider to a legislative bill; to tack two leases together.
  • In metal-working, to join (pieces) by small patches of solder placed at intervals to hold them in position until the final soldering can be completed.
  • To change the course of a ship when sailing by the wind, by turning her head toward the wind and bracing the yards round so that she will sail at the same angle with the wind on the other tack.
  • Hence To change one's course; take a new line or direction; shift; veer.
  • To attack.
  • n. Side: said of a speculator's relationship to the market.
  • n. A short, sharp-pointed nail or pin, used as a fastener by being driven or thrust-through the material to be fastened into the substance to which it is to be fixed.
  • n. In needlework, a long stitch, usually one of a number intended to hold two pieces of stuff together, preparatory to more thorough sewing. Compare basting.
  • n. Nautical: A heavy rope used to confine the foremost lower corner of the courses; also, a rope by which the outer lower corner of a studdingsail is pulled out to the end of the boom.
  • n. The part of a sail to which the tack is fastened, the foremost lower corner of a course, jib, or staysail, or the outer lower corner of a studdingsail.
  • n. Hence— The course of a ship in relation to the position of her sails: as, the starboard tack, or port tack (the former when she is close-hauled with the wind on her starboard, the latter when close-hauled with the wind on her port side).
  • n. A temporary change of a few points in the direction of sailing, as to take advantage of a side wind; one of a series of movements of a vessel to starboard and port alternately out of the general line of her course.
  • n. Hence A determinate course or change of course in general; a tactical line or turn of procedure; a mode of action or conduct adopted or pursued for some specific reason.
  • n. In plumbing, the fastening of a pipe to a wall or the like, consisting of a strip of lead soldered to the pipe, nailed to the support, and turned back over the nails.
  • n. Something that is attached or fixed in place, or that holds, adheres, or sticks.
  • n. The condition of being tacked or fastened; stability; fixedness; firm grasp; reliance. See to hold tack, below.
  • n. In the arts, an adhesive or sticky condition, as of a partially dried, varnished, painted, or oiled surface; stickiness.
  • n. In Scots law, a contract by which the use of a thing is let for hire; a lease: as, a tack of land.
  • n. Hence— Land occupied on lease; a rented farm.
  • n. Hired pasturage; the renting of pasture for cattle.
  • n. A spot; a stain; a blemish.
  • n. A distinctive taste or flavor; a continuing or abiding smack.
  • n. Substance; solidity: spoken of the food of cattle and other stock.
  • n. Bad food.
  • n. Bad malt liquor.
  • n. Food in general; fare: as, hard tack, coarse fare; soft tack, good fare.
  • n. Specifically, among sailors, soldiers, etc., bread, or anything of the bread kind, distinguished as hard tack (or hardtack) and soft tack. See hardtack.
  • n. A variety of pistol used by the Highlanders of Scotland. See dag, 2.

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

  • n. (nautical) a line (rope or chain) that regulates the angle at which a sail is set in relation to the wind
  • n. (nautical) the act of changing tack
  • v. fasten with tacks
  • v. sew together loosely, with large stitches
  • v. turn into the wind
  • n. sailing a zigzag course
  • n. the heading or position of a vessel relative to the trim of its sails
  • n. gear for a horse
  • v. fix to; attach
  • v. create by putting components or members together
  • v. reverse (a direction, attitude, or course of action)
  • n. a short nail with a sharp point and a large head


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

Middle English tak, fastener, from Old North French taque, probably of Germanic origin.
Origin unknown.
Short for tackle.



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  • What if one loses track of tack? Would that be a tacky situation? Would it be a task hard to tackle? (Did you grasp tack?)

    What type of tack would you use on a tackey horse? If the tack wasn't to the tackey's liking would the horse become techy?

    January 27, 2016

  • The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories tells me "The tack associated with horse-riding was originally dialect in the general sense 'apparatus, equipment' and is a contraction of tackle. The current sense (as in tack room) dates from the 1920s."

    January 26, 2016

  • Public School Slang: A study feast.

    April 14, 2009

  • directly as in tack (down) v. indirectly as tack into the wind.

    April 26, 2008