[boh-lin, -lahyn]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bowline

Historical Examples of bowline

  • 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

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 for bowline

C14: probably from Middle Low German bōlīne, equivalent to bow ³ + line 1
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