[awr-lok, ohr-]


any of various devices providing a pivot for an oar in rowing, especially a swiveling, crutchlike or ringlike metal device projecting above a gunwale.

Origin of oarlock

before 1100; Middle English orlok, Old English ārloc. See oar, lock1
Also called rowlock.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for oarlock

Historical Examples of oarlock

  • He got up and slapped the oar back into the oarlock and we both rowed hard.


    Ellis Parker Butler

  • Had he heard something, the low groan of an oarlock, the mumble of a voice?

  • A faint knock of oarlock was the only sound that disturbed the grave-like stillness.

    Green Eyes

    Roy J. Snell

  • "We were out on the river and broke an oarlock, Mr. Haskers," replied Dave.

  • The oar, as though pulled by the water, slipped out of the oarlock and floated away entirely unconcerned.

British Dictionary definitions for oarlock



US and Canadian a swivelling device attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds an oar in place and acts as a fulcrum during rowingAlso called: rowlock
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 oarlock

mid-14c., from oar + lock (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper