EXAMPLES | WORD ORIGIN noun a kind of knot, hitch, or bend made on a rope to shorten it temporarily. Origin of sheepshank
First recorded in
1635–45; short for sheepshank knot; literal sense unclear
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Examples from the Web for sheep-shank Historical Examples of sheep-shank Sheep-shank the stays and backstays, and set them hand-taut.
But when you come to that
sheep-shank and bowline upon the bight, as you term them, it grows confusing.
The purpose of a
Sheep-shank is to take up slack or shorten a rope temporarily.
It is sometimes necessary to shorten a rope temporarily and not desirable to cut it, and the
sheep-shank knot solves the problem. British Dictionary definitions for sheep-shank noun a knot consisting of two hitches at the ends of a bight made in a rope to shorten it temporarily
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for sheep-shank n.
sheepshank, 1670s, "leg of a sheep," from sheep + shank (n.). A type of something lank, slender, or weak. Attested earlier in transferred sense of "type of sailor's knot used to shorten a rope without cutting it" (1620s).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper