See more synonyms for derrick on
  1. Machinery. a jib crane having a boom hinged near the base of the mast so as to rotate about the mast, for moving a load toward or away from the mast by raising or lowering the boom.
  2. Also called oil derrick. the towerlike framework over an oil well or the like.
  3. a boom for lifting cargo, pivoted at its inner end to a ship's mast or kingpost, and raised and supported at its outer end by topping lifts.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. Machinery. luff.

Origin of derrick

originally a hangman, the gallows, after the surname of a well-known Tyburn hangman, circa 1600 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for derrick

machine, rig, lift, hoist

Examples from the Web for derrick

Contemporary Examples of derrick

Historical Examples of derrick

  • Most of the barges had derrick masts, and all these masts were moving.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Where the derrick had stood was the mouth of the twenty-inch casing.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • The cable that ran from it was entangled with the wreckage of the derrick, but it had not been cut.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • And there, where the derrick had stood, was a tall plume of white.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • Wisbech said he wished to see Derrick Nasmyth, and the man nodded.

    The Greater Power

    Harold Bindloss

British Dictionary definitions for derrick


  1. a simple crane having lifting tackle slung from a boom
  2. the framework erected over an oil well to enable drill tubes to be raised and lowered
  1. to raise or lower the jib of (a crane)

Word Origin for derrick

C17 (in the sense: gallows): from Derrick, name of a celebrated hangman at Tyburn
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 derrick

c.1600, originally "hangman," then "a gallows," then "hoist, crane" (1727), from surname of a hangman at Tyburn gallows, London, c.1606-1608, often referred to in contemporary theater. The name represents a late borrowing from the Low Countries (cf. Dutch Diederik) of Old High German Theodric.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper