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Origin of rigging

First recorded in 1480–90; rig + -ing1


verb (used with object), rigged, rig·ging.
  1. Chiefly Nautical.
    1. to put in proper order for working or use.
    2. to fit (a ship, mast, etc.) with the necessary shrouds, stays, etc.
    3. to fit (shrouds, stays, sails, etc.) to the mast, yard, or the like.
  2. to furnish or provide with equipment, clothing, etc.; fit (usually followed by out or up).
  3. to assemble, install, or prepare (often followed by up).
  4. to manipulate fraudulently: to rig prices.
  1. the arrangement of the masts, spars, sails, etc., on a boat or ship.
  2. apparatus for some purpose; equipment; outfit; gear: a hi-fi rig; Bring your rod and reel and all the rest of your fishing rig.
  3. Also called drill rig. the equipment used in drilling an oil well.
  4. any combination trucking unit in which vehicles are hooked together, as a tractor-trailer.
  5. any kind of truck.
  6. a carriage, buckboard, sulky, or wagon together with the horse or horses that draw it.
  7. Informal. costume or dress, especially when odd or conspicuous, or when designated for a particular purpose: He looks quite nifty in a butler's rig.
Verb Phrases
  1. rig down, Nautical. to place in an inactive state, stowing all lines, tackles, and other removable parts.
  2. rig up, to equip or set up for use.

Origin of rig

1480–90; 1930–35 for def 4; probably < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian, Swedish rigg (noun), rigga (v.)
Related formsout·rig, verb (used with object), out·rigged, out·rig·ging.o·ver·rigged, adjectiveun·der·rigged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for rigging

equipment, apparatus

Examples from the Web for rigging

Contemporary Examples of rigging

Historical Examples of rigging

  • I soon began to climb the rigging of the brig, ascending to the mast-heads.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The sight of these chaps set up all my rigging, and I felt ripe for fun.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The pinnace was then stripped of her rigging and of all the goods which remained.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott

  • I started as though I had seen a tabby pounce down from the rigging!

  • The wind, falling over the cliff, played mournfully in the rigging.

British Dictionary definitions for rigging


  1. the shrouds, stays, halyards, etc, of a vessel
  2. the bracing wires, struts, and lines of a biplane, balloon, etc
  3. any form of lifting gear, tackle, etc


verb rigs, rigging or rigged (tr)
  1. nautical to equip (a vessel, mast, etc) with (sails, rigging, etc)
  2. nautical to set up or prepare ready for use
  3. to put the components of (an aircraft, etc) into their correct positions
  4. to manipulate in a fraudulent manner, esp for profitto rig prices; to rig an election
  1. nautical the distinctive arrangement of the sails, masts, and other spars of a vessel
  2. the installation used in drilling for and exploiting natural oil and gas depositsan oil rig In full: drilling rig
  3. apparatus or equipment; gear
  4. an amateur radio operator's transmitting and receiving set
  5. US and Canadian a carriage together with one or more horses
  6. mainly US and Canadian an articulated lorry

Word Origin for rig

C15: from Scandinavian; related to Norwegian rigga to wrap


  1. Scot and Northern English dialect a ridge or raised strip of unploughed land in a ploughed field

Word Origin for rig

a variant of ridge
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 rigging

late 15c., "action of fitting (a ship) with ropes, etc.; 1590s as "ropes that work the sails of a ship," verbal noun from rig (v.).



late 15c., originally nautical, "to fit with sails," probably from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish, Norwegian rigge "to equip," Swedish rigga "to rig, harness"), though these may be from English; perhaps ultimately from PIE *reig- "to bind." Slang meaning "to pre-arrange or tamper with results" is attested from 1938, perhaps a different word, from rig (n.) "a trick, swindle, scheme" (1775), earlier "sport, banter, ridicule" (1725), of unknown origin. Also there is rig (v.) "ransack" from 1560s, likewise of unknown origin. Related: Rigged; rigging.



"distinctive arrangement of sails, masts, etc. on a ship," 1822, from rig (v.). Extended to costume, clothing outfit (1843); horse-drawn vehicle (1831), which led to sense of "truck, bus, etc." (1851); and apparatus for well-sinking (1875).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper