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

  • n. Nautical A pointed metal spike, used to separate strands of rope or wire in splicing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tool, consisting of a pointed metal spike, used to manipulate the strands of rope or cable when splicing

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nautical, a pointed iron implement used to separate the strands of rope in splicing, and as a lever in putting on seizings, etc. Also written marlinspike and marlingspike.
  • n. A jäger, a species of Stercorarius: so called (by sailors) from the long pointed middle tail-feathers.

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

  • n. a pointed iron hand tool that is used to separate strands of a rope or cable (as in splicing)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • She took two long steps and seized the marlinespike, yanking it off the desk in a shower of rubbish and clanging oddments.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

  • A piece of wood showed among the rubble on the desk, the blunt end of a marlinespike.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

  • She kept hold of the marlinespike, but her wrists quivered, and she lowered it.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

  • For every thumb was a marlinespike and every finger a fid

    Old Fid

  • Ronica nodded at Rache, but did not put down the marlinespike.

    The Mad Ship

  • It had been Captain Vestrit's conceit to keep a marlinespike on the corner of his desk.

    The Mad Ship

  • Brashen had once worked on a ship where the mate was a bit too free with his marlinespike.

    Ship Of Magic

  • Everything from tobacco sacks and cigarette papers to a spare cinch and a rope, from a change of clothes to a picture of his family or his girl, from old letters and reading material to a marlinespike, was kept in it.

    This Calder Range

  • He did so, and had it not been that a writ of Habeas Corpus was immediately sworn out, the Deptford tailor would most certainly have exchanged his needle for a marlinespike.

    The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore

  • Its maker named it a knife; as a matter of fact, the knife part was worthless; but snugly and cunningly fitted into the stout buckhorn handle was a serviceable file, a hacksaw, and a marlinespike.

    Gold Out of Celebes


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  • Hm. I always thought this was spelled marlinspike.

    February 27, 2008

  • "A pointed iron or steel hand tool carried by deck hands (Boatswain’s Mates particularly.) Normally no shorter than 6 inches and no longer than 18, marline spikes are used in various shipboard tasks including separating the strands of line and prying open diverse shipboard containers. Marlinespikes are also used as screwdrivers, hammers, paint-chippers, eating utensils, or tea and coffee-stirrers."


    February 27, 2008