Definitions

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

  • n. Nautical An apparatus used for hoisting weights, consisting of a vertical spool-shaped cylinder that is rotated manually or by machine and around which a cable is wound.
  • n. A small cylindrical shaft used to drive magnetic tape at a constant speed in a tape recorder.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.
  • n. A rotating spindle used to move recording tape through the mechanism of a tape recorder.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An apparatus working on the principle of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights or applying power.

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

  • n. a windlass rotated in a horizontal plane around a vertical axis; used on ships for weighing anchor or raising heavy sails

Etymologies

Middle English, from Norman French, from Old Provençal cabestan, from cabestre, noose, from Latin capistrum, halter, probably from capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French cabestan, from Spanish cabestrante, cabrestante, from cabestrar to bind with a halter, from cabestrohalter, from Latin capistrum halter, from capere to hold (see capacious); or perhaps the Spanish is from Latin caper goat + -stans, present participle of stare to stand; confer French chèvre she-goat, also a machine for raising heavy weights. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Aside from a large winch, called a capstan, and various blocks and pulleys to take off some of the strain, eighteenth-century sailing ships relied on brute man power.

    John Paul Jones

  • The sailors had tied their prisoner with ropes to the heavy iron wheel in the stern of the boat called a capstan; so that as he moved he would be obliged to drag it round and thus help to work the ship.

    A Book of Quaker Saints

  • The best, like all good things, has gone for ever, and this best way was for a thing called a capstan to have sticking out from it, movable, and fitted into its upper rim, other things called capstan -- bars.

    First and Last

  • A small, strong raft, it may be forty feet square, with an upright windlass in its centre, called a capstan, is fastened to some part of the boom.

    A Study Of Hawthorne

  • Directly abaft the capstan was the fore-hatch, over which lay the path of those who walked around at the bars.

    Down the Rhine Young America in Germany

  • Also crazy "capstan" control of your reel-to-reel for early time-stretch, which, if you can understand it, makes time travel seem possible after all.

    Review: Audio Damage Discord

  • In these kind of capstan-head court-martials, at which captains will sometimes administer reefers 'law, "Woe to the weakest!"

    Rattlin the Reefer

  • Loaded down, Logan and Rytlock staggered out the cabin door and seated themselves on the capstan.

    GuildWars Edge of Destiny

  • We have verified that the intrinsic resolution of these images is going to be very high, to be quantified further after we get the demod at 100% and the capstan motor replaced.

    NASA Watch: February 2009 Archives

  • He knew in all absoluteness that he was choosing between life and death, and he limped over to the capstan and found his place.

    CHAPTER L

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.