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

  • n. Nautical The rail around the stern of a vessel.
  • n. Nautical The flat upper part of the stern of a vessel, made of wood and often richly carved.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The curved wooden top of the stern of a sailing man-of-war or East Indiaman, usually carved or decorated.
  • n. The rail around the stern of a ship.
  • n. The deck area at the stern of a vessel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The upper part of a ship's stern, which is flat like a table on the top, and sometimes ornamented with carved work; the rail around a ship's stern.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as tafferel; now, as commonly understood (from confusion with the word rail), the rail across the stern of a vessel.

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

  • n. the railing around the stern of a ship


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

Alteration of tafferel, carved panel, from Dutch tafereel, panel for carving or painting, from Middle Dutch tafeleel, tafereel, from Old French tablel; see tableau.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

By false alteration of either tafferel or aft + rail.


  • That blob you see over the taffrail is a flag ... the North Korean flag, raised in the place of the Stars and Stripes.


  • Between the stern end of this house and the taffrail was a small space, thickly grown with camp-stools.

    Idolatry A Romance

  • A light shown over the taffrail was the signal of what he was about to do, and as he clewed up his sails, his consorts followed his example, and all three dropped their anchors within a short distance of each other -- the frigate being on the outside.

    The Pirate of the Mediterranean A Tale of the Sea

  • I was still on deck, albeit clinging to the taffrail.

    Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester – review

  • We have held the north-east trade for days now, and the miles roll off behind us as the patent log whirls and tinkles on the taffrail.


  • It was about a month to the Cape, with the taffrail under most of the way, but not too bad until we neared Algoa Bay, when it began to blow fit to sicken Magellan.


  • Chopped away at the captain and when the devil wouldn't let go of the taffrail you chopped off the devil's hands.


  • He stood with his hands resting on the taffrail gazing at the water boiling up from the stern of the S.S.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • On the other hand, if you want to lean on the taffrail of your ketch and regard the magnificent melancholy sunset of Sirius from the Draschade Ocean, with the rose, cerise and gamboge light playing across the waters, while sipping a Rum Toddy, any world of his would be just the place to do it.

    Reader Challenge #5B - The Coolest Science Fiction Setting (TV/Film)

  • When we came to the poop, we found the men removing a portion of the superstructure over the stern, and after that they took some of the stronger reeds, and proceeded to work at the weed that stretched away in a line with our taffrail.

    The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'


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  • This word was used in the "Master And Commander" movie.

    September 7, 2012

  • "Quentin walked to the very stern and looked out over the wake, swept clean and crushed into foam by the weight of their passage. He felt good and right here. He patted the Muntjac's worn old taffrail: unlike most things and most people in Fillory, the Muntjac needed Quentin, and Quentin hadn't let her down."

    The Magician King by Lev Grossman, p 53

    August 19, 2011

  • From "A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg" by Guy Davenport.

    January 19, 2010