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[kraws-staf, -stahf, kros-] /ˈkrɔsˌstæf, -ˌstɑf, ˈkrɒs-/
noun, plural cross-staffs, cross-staves. Astronomy.
an instrument for measuring the angle of elevation of heavenly bodies, consisting of a calibrated staff with another shorter staff perpendicular to and sliding on it.
Also called forestaff, Jacob's staff.
Origin of cross-staff
late Middle English
1400-50, for an earlier sense; late Middle English Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cross-staff
Historical Examples
  • The simplest and crudest form of measurer of which the record has been preserved is known as the cross-staff.

  • Even the navigators of the fifteenth century were aware of the deficiencies of the cross-staff and sought to improve upon it.

  • The vane of a cross-staff, made to slide along it by means of a square socket; it may be set to any of the graduations.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Iacobs staffean instrument formerly used for measuring the altitude of the sun; a cross-staff.

    The Fatal Dowry Philip Massinger
  • Above, it has the small arc of the Davis quadrant with the sliding rod of the cross-staff below.

  • But some kind of a dratted cross-current ketched me and I'm sailin' out to sea, I finds, without compass or cross-staff.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • He rubbed his eyes, looked again, adjusting his observation by a cross-staff which had been placed so as to bear upon the point.

    The Antiquary, Complete Sir Walter Scott
  • A man upon the frame-work controls this wheel, guided by a sight on the frame, and a cross-staff at the end of the field.

    Farm drainage Henry Flagg French
  • The cross-staff had not then come into use, and it was never of much service in low latitudes.

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