or top-ham·per


noun Nautical.

the light upper sails and their gear and spars, sometimes used to refer to all spars and gear above the deck.
any unnecessary weight, either aloft or about the upper decks.

Origin of tophamper

First recorded in 1785–95; top1 + hamper1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for top-hamper

Historical Examples of top-hamper

  • Above it the top-hamper of the brig loomed indistinct and high.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

  • "You leave my top-hamper alone," said Judson, for the joke was beginning to pall on him.

  • All her top-hamper had been taken down by Spike, and nothing remained but the plainest and most readily-managed gear.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "I ain't making any rash promises," stated Captain Downs, walking to the rail and taking a squint at the top-hamper.

  • There was scarcely sea enough to tremble the top-hamper of the unsuspecting man-of-war.

    A Little Traitor to the South

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

Word Origin and History for top-hamper

1791, originally the upper masts, sails, and rigging of a sailing ship, later extended to modern vessels, from top (n.1) + hamper (n.) in the nautical sense of "things necessary but often in the way."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper