or gun·nel

[ guhn-l ]

  1. the upper edge of the side or bulwark of a vessel.

  2. the sheer strake of a wooden vessel; the uppermost strake beneath the plank-sheer.

Origin of gunwale

1325–75; Middle English. See gun1, wale1; a plank so called because guns were set upon it

Words Nearby gunwale Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use gunwale in a sentence

  • An outfitter named Craig had rented me the 15-foot canoe with a broken thwart, splintering gunwales, and the tanker toilet.

  • Amy, who was strong and quick, reached over the gunwale of the canoe and seized upon the crooked figure.

  • We went on board the Danish ship, for there was not enough sea to prevent our lying gunwale to gunwale for a moment.

    A Prince of Cornwall | Charles W. Whistler
  • On either side of the gunwale aft is fitted a brass crutch for supporting the main boom when the vessel is at anchor (fig. 21).

    Yachting Vol. 2 | Various.
  • Then passed rafts of wood interminably long, and barges loaded to the gunwale, and nearly sinking under water.

    Michael Strogoff | Jules Verne
  • Déruchette heard the sound of the boat-hook among the shingle, and the step of the man on the gunwale of the boat.

    Toilers of the Sea | Victor Hugo

British Dictionary definitions for gunwale



/ (ˈɡʌnəl) /

  1. nautical the top of the side of a boat or the topmost plank of a wooden vessel

  2. full to the gunwales completely full; full to overflowing

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