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

  • n. Any of numerous hauling or lifting machines consisting essentially of a horizontal cylinder turned by a crank or a motor so that a line attached to the load is wound around the cylinder.
  • transitive v. To raise with a windlass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various forms of winch, in which a rope or cable is wound around a cylinder, used for lifting heavy weights
  • v. To raise with, or as if with, a windlass; to use a windlass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A winding and circuitous way; a roundabout course; a shift.
  • n. A machine for raising weights, consisting of a horizontal cylinder or roller moving on its axis, and turned by a crank, lever, or similar means, so as to wind up a rope or chain attached to the weight. In vessels the windlass is often used instead of the capstan for raising the anchor. It is usually set upon the forecastle, and is worked by hand or steam.
  • n. An apparatus resembling a winch or windlass, for bending the bow of an arblast, or crossbow.
  • v. To raise with, or as with, a windlass; to use a windlass.
  • intransitive v. To take a roundabout course; to work warily or by indirect means.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To take a circuitous path; fetch a compass.
  • To adopt a circuitous, artful, or cunning course; use stratagem; act indirectly or warily.
  • To bend; turn about; bewilder.
  • To use a windlass; raise something as by a windlass.
  • To hoist or haul by means of a windlass.
  • n. A hand or power machine for drawing a package of staves together to form a barrel.
  • n. A winding or turning; a circuitous course; a circuit.
  • n.
  • n. Any indirect, artful course; circumvention; art and contrivance; subtleties.
  • n. A modification of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights, etc.
  • n. A handle by which anything is turned; specifically, a winch-like contrivance for bending the arbalist or crossbow. See crossbow.

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

  • n. lifting device consisting of a horizontal cylinder turned by a crank on which a cable or rope winds


Middle English wyndlas, alteration of windas, from Old Norse vindāss : vinda, to wind + āss, pole.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English windels or windas, Old Norse vindass, from vinda ("to wind") + ass ("pole"). Confer Icelandic vindilass. (Wiktionary)



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