[bou-sprit, boh-]

noun Nautical.

a spar projecting from the upper end of the bow of a sailing vessel, for holding the tacks of various jibs or stays and often supporting a jib boom.

Origin of bowsprit

1300–50; Middle English bouspret < Middle Low German bōchspret (cognate with Dutch boegsprit) (bōch bow3 + spret pole, cognate with Old English sprēot) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for bowsprit

nose, head, prow, fore, stem, beak, forepart

Examples from the Web for bowsprit

Historical Examples of bowsprit

  • The Growler had lost her bowsprit, and was otherwise damaged, and had been forced to strike also.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • And springing up, he ran to the bowsprit and began to swarm along it.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • She lost her bowsprit and foremast, but escaped further injury.

  • The pier is all but on the bowsprit, and you think you are there—roll, roar, wash!

  • Cain stood at the bowsprit, giving his directions to the helmsman.

British Dictionary definitions for bowsprit



nautical a spar projecting from the bow of a vessel, esp a sailing vessel, used to carry the headstay as far forward as possible

Word Origin for bowsprit

C13: from Middle Low German bōchsprēt, from bōch bow ³ + sprēt pole
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

Word Origin and History for bowsprit

"spar extending from the bow of a ship," late 13c., probably from Middle Low German bochspret, from boch "bow of a ship" (see bow (n.2)) + spret "pole" (cf. Old English spreot "pole," Dutch spriet "spear;" see sprit). French beaupre is a Dutch loan word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper