Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Nautical A spar, extending forward from the stem of a ship, to which the stays of the foremast are fastened.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A spar projecting over the prow of a sailing vessel to provide the means of adding sail surface.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large boom or spar, which projects over the stem of a ship or other vessel, to carry sail forward.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large spar which projects forward from the stem of a ship or other vessel.
  • n. Beyond it extend the jib-boom and the flying-jib boom. The bowsprit is secured downward by the bobstays and the gammoning (which see), and at the sides by the bowsprit-shrouds, which are secured to the bows of the ship. From the outer end of the bowsprit a spar called the martingale or dolphin-striker projects downward to support the martingale-stays, and two smaller spars, called whiskers, project sidewise to support the jib-guys. On the foretopmast-stay, the jib-stay, and the flying-jib stay (which extend downward from the foretopmast-head and the foretop-gallantmast-head to the ends of the bowsprit, jib-boom, and flying-jib boom) are set the foretopmast-staysail, the jib, and the flying jib. Corruptly written boltsprit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a spar projecting from the bow of a vessel

Etymologies

Middle English bouspret, possibly from Middle Low German bōchsprēt : bōch, bow; see bheug- in Indo-European roots + sprēt, sprit; see sper- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in late XIII century. Probably from M.L.G. bochspret: boch - "the bow of a ship" + spret - "pole". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Adonis _Adonis_ apropos _apropo_ bowsprit _bowsprit_ brooch _broch_ not _broosh_ compromise _compromize_ jowl _jol_, not like _owl_ molecular _molecular_ ogle _ogle_ trow _tro_ vocable _vocable_ zoology _zoology_, not _zoo_

    Practical Grammar and Composition

  • A bowsprit is a precarious bridge; the boarding party was on a virtual suicide mission.

    John Paul Jones

  • Rising from the calm surface of the sea beneath the bowsprit was a line of crabs.

    A Triumph of Souls

  • The broken spars dangling forlornly from the bowsprit were a bigger problem, but the icerigger could sail without them.

    The Deluge Drivers

  • There are three masts and the bowsprit, which is simply the old bowmast that has gradually increased its angle until it is now almost horizontal.

    Golden Days for Boys and Girls, Vol. XIII, Nov. 28, 1891

  • The bowsprit is a strong conical piece of timber, projecting from the stem of a ship, and serving to support the fore-mast, and as a yard or boom on which certain sails are moveable.

    The Illustrated London Reading Book

  • Between it and the bowsprit are the _fore-stay-sail_, _jib_, and

    Man on the Ocean A Book about Boats and Ships

  • In a short time, the wind having fallen still more, I was able to board her; when I found that many of the French crew had attempted to escape and had been lost, and that those on the bowsprit were the only survivors.

    The South Sea Whaler

  • The afterpart, however, or stern-sheets, is sunk about four feet; and as the bowsprit is a mere stump, and the sheets of both foresail and jib lead aft, all the work may be done here when under snug sail.

    Impressions of America During the years 1833, 1834 and 1835. In Two Volumes, Volume I.

  • "I was afraid you would be knocked off the bowsprit, which is a bad place to be, when two vessels put their noses together.

    The Yacht Club or The Young Boat-Builder

Comments

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  • This is one of the best nautical words ever.

    February 27, 2008