[ bou-sprit, boh- ]
/ ˈbaʊ sprɪt, ˈboʊ- /

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.


Nearby words

  1. bowser,
  2. bowser bag,
  3. bowser boat,
  4. bowshot,
  5. bowsie,
  6. bowstring,
  7. bowstring hemp,
  8. bowstring truss,
  9. bowtel,
  10. bowwood

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

Examples from the Web for bowsprit

British Dictionary definitions for bowsprit


/ (ˈbəʊsprɪt) /


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