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[boh-lin, -lahyn] /ˈboʊ lɪn, -ˌlaɪn/
Also called bowline knot. a knot used to make a nonslipping loop on the end of a rope.
Nautical. a rope made fast to the weather leech of a square sail, for keeping the sail as flat as possible when close-hauled.
on a bowline, Nautical. sailing close-hauled.
on an easy bowline, Nautical. close-hauled with sails well filled.
Origin of bowline
1275-1325; Middle English bouline, equivalent to bou- (perhaps boue bow2) + line line1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bowline
Historical Examples
  • The "bowline Song" indicated that he was feeling particularly jubilant.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The dogs' traces should be of skin and fastened with toggles or buttons to the bowline.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • Hence the ship sails on a bowline, or stands on a taut bowline.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • A further involution makes what is termed a bowline on a bight.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The breeze was easterly—a wind which would carry us on a bowline to Jamaica.

    Old Jack W.H.G. Kingston
  • This did not take me the time I said, and forming a bowline I lowered it to him.

    Peter Trawl W. H. G. Kingston
  • She was then standing on a bowline to the northward, away from the land.

    Mark Seaworth William H.G. Kingston
  • The bowline is a loop that will not slip after the first grip.

  • Harry had already made a bowline in a bight at the end of a line.

    Boy Scouts in the North Sea

    G. Harvey Ralphson
  • Bend one bowline to the centre of the sail, to guy it in going aloft.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
British Dictionary definitions for bowline


noun (nautical)
a line for controlling the weather leech of a square sail when a vessel is close-hauled
on a bowline, beating close to the wind
a knot used for securing a loop that will not slip at the end of a piece of rope
Word Origin
C14: probably from Middle Low German bōlīne, equivalent to bow³ + line1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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