1. a skein, as of thread or yarn.
  2. a definite length of thread or yarn: A hank of cotton yarn measures 840 yards.
  3. a coil, knot, or loop: a hank of hair.
  4. Nautical. a ring, link, or shackle for securing the luff of a staysail or jib to its stay or the luff or head of a gaff sail to the mast or gaff.
verb (used with object)
  1. Nautical. to fasten (a sail) by means of hanks.

Origin of hank

1175–1225; Middle English < Old Norse hǫnk hank, coil, skein, clasp; akin to hang
Related formsun·hanked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for hanking


  1. a loop, coil, or skein, as of rope, wool, or yarn
  2. nautical a ringlike fitting that can be opened to admit a stay for attaching the luff of a sail
  3. a unit of measurement of cloth, yarn, etc, such as a length of 840 yards (767 m) of cotton or 560 yards (512 m) of worsted yarn
  1. (tr) nautical to attach (a sail) to a stay by hanks

Word Origin for hank

C13: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse hanka to coil, Swedish hank string
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 hanking



late 13c., probably from a Scandinavian source, e.g. Old Norse honk, hank "clasp, hank," related to hang (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper