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

  • n. Nautical A rope running from the peak of a gaff to a ship's rail or mast, used to steady the gaff.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A boom vang, a strap or line which exerts downward pressure on the boom near where it joins the mast of a fore-and-aft rigged sailboat.
  • n. A line extended down from the end of a yard or a gaff, used to regulate its position
  • v. To take; undertake for.
  • v. To undertake for at the Font; be godfather or godmother to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rope to steady the peak of a gaff.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A guy extending from the end of a gaff to the ship's rail on each side, and serving to steady the gaff.


Dutch, a catch, from vangen, to catch; see pag- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English vangen, southern variant of fangen ("to seize, catch"), from Old English fōn ("to take, grasp, seize, catch, capture, make prisoner, receive, accept, assume, undertake, meet with, encounter"), and Old Norse fanga ("to fetch, capture"), both from Proto-Germanic *fanhanan, *fangōnan (“to catch, capture”), from Proto-Indo-European *paḱ- (“to fasten, place”). Cognate with West Frisian fange ("to catch"), Dutch vangen ("to catch"), German fangen ("to catch"), Danish fange ("to catch"). More at fang. (Wiktionary)
From Dutch vangen ("to catch"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Yarb! Could you please put some brackets around "Vang you, Bilby"? (I know just where to put it.)

    January 15, 2013

  • Vang you, Bilby.

    January 15, 2013

  • “_Rot-gut_, my Lord," ejaculated Tom, with emphasis; "and if, my Lord, a man wants to get the jandiss, I recommends vang ordonnor_y_;" and down went Tom's fist, with a loud report, into the palm of his left hand.”
    - A Yacht Voyage to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden 2nd edition

    January 15, 2013

  • yarb put him there.

    January 15, 2013

  • "A guy extending from the end of a gaff to the ship's rail on each side, and serving to steady the gaff." --from the definitions. How'd the poor guy get to the end of the gaff in the first place?

    January 14, 2013

  • Boom-vang!


    February 17, 2011

  • This is still commonly used in yachting, principally in the form "boom-vang".

    February 16, 2011

  • "Vangs, a sort of braces to support and keep steady the mizen-gaff: they are fixed on the outer-end or peak, and reach downwards to the aftmost part of a ship's quarters, where they are hooked and drawn tight, so as to be slackened when the wind is fair; and drawn in to windward when it becomes unfavourable to the ship's course."
    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 588

    October 12, 2008

  • I'm thinking Verlyn Klinkenborg was so entranced with the word "vang" that he/she changed his/her name to complement it.

    Or maybe not. Parents have done worse things to children.

    April 16, 2008

  • On the ving vang vong,
    where the cows go bong,
    and the monkeys all say "Boo!"...

    April 15, 2008

  • Wow. And Verlyn Klinkenborg sounds like a real name. *snorts*

    April 15, 2008

  • "Part of the trouble is that I have never seen a vang. But it’s also that 'vang' doesn’t sound like a noun to me. It sounds like the past tense of 'ving,' which sounds like something you might do to a 'vong.' And those are words with no meaning--nautical or otherwise." -- Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Ving, Vang, Vong. Or, the Pleasures of a New Vocabulary." NYT Online, 4/9/08

    April 15, 2008

  • I think this only applies to old time cargo carrying gaff-rigged sailing barges, but I suppose it could apply to yachts as well.

    March 27, 2008

  • Yeah, and A Sea of Words isn't much clearer: "Guys leading from the peak of a gaff, securing it to the rail and keeping it amidships when the sail was not set." (p. 457)

    March 20, 2008

  • I hate it when that happens.

    March 19, 2008

  • "...the mizen-mast was sprung, in consequence of the vangs of the gaff giving way."
    —P. O'Brian, The Yellow Admiral, 164

    March 19, 2008