Definitions

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

  • n. Cargo or equipment thrown overboard to lighten a ship in distress.
  • n. Discarded cargo or equipment found washed ashore. See Usage Note at flotsam.
  • n. Discarded odds and ends.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. articles thrown overboard from a ship or boat in order to lighten the load of a ship in distress
  • n. discarded odds and ends

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Goods which sink when cast into the sea, and remain under water; -- distinguished from flotsam, goods which float, and ligan (or lagan), goods which are sunk attached to a buoy.
  • n. The act of throwing objects from a ship to lighten the load; jettison{1}. See Jettison, 1.
  • n. Anything thrown overboard from a ship, whether floating or not.
  • n. Objects scattered about in a disorderly manner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In law and com.: Same as jettison.
  • n. The goods thrown out by jettison.

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

  • n. the floating wreckage of a ship
  • n. the part of a ship's equipment or cargo that is thrown overboard to lighten the load in a storm

Etymologies

From earlier jetson, alteration of Middle English jetteson, a throwing overboard; see jettison.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English jetteson, from Anglo-Norman getteson (See jettison.) (Wiktionary)

Examples

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