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

  • n. A wooden peg that swells when wet and is used to fasten timbers, especially in shipbuilding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A wooden peg or pin used as a fastener.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A long wooden pin used in fastening the planks of a vessel to the timbers or to each other.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cylindrical pin of hard wood used for fastening planks or timbers in ships and similar constructions.
  • n. In architecture, same as gutta. 1.

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

  • n. a wooden peg that is used to fasten timbers in shipbuilding; water causes the peg to swell and hold the timbers fast


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Tamarac hulls went sound for twenty years, and sometimes forty, especially when hardwood treenails were used -- a treenail being a bolt that did the service of a nail in woodwork or a rivet in steel plating.

    All Afloat A Chronicle of Craft and Waterways

  • The Ship is almost compleated, and ready to come out of Dock, as she was only spiked and treeniled [treenail]; and to take in a load of Salt which is a weighty loading I thought propper to butt boalt her: I have used every Endevour to obtain Freight some way of other, but fruteless.



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  • A peg or dowel used since ancient times to fasten pieces of wood together, especially in timber frame construction and wooden shipbuilding. Cf. trenail and trunnel.

    November 2, 2009

  • "'Mr Lamb,' he said... 'here are your tools. Ply them like a hero ... You may have every man-jack you want to hold a plank or shape a treenail.'"

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 402

    February 23, 2008