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[boh-lin, -lahyn] /ˈboʊ lɪn, -ˌlaɪn/
Also called bowline knot. a knot used to make a nonslipping loop on the end of a rope.
Nautical. a rope made fast to the weather leech of a square sail, for keeping the sail as flat as possible when close-hauled.
on a bowline, Nautical. sailing close-hauled.
on an easy bowline, Nautical. close-hauled with sails well filled.
Origin of bowline
1275-1325; Middle English bouline, equivalent to bou- (perhaps boue bow2) + line line1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bowline
Historical Examples
  • And then he bent down, got hold of the bowline of the craft, and tied it fast to their stern.

    The Rover Boys Under Canvas Arthur M. Winfield
  • A further involution makes what is termed a bowline on a bight.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The Captain asked the reason why these vessels, which were not so good on a bowline as the Capitana, were so far ahead.

    The Voyages of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros Pedro Fernandez de Quiros
  • The "bowline Song" indicated that he was feeling particularly jubilant.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • As if the schooner had seen her at the same moment, she instantly sheered off, hauled her wind, and made all sail on a bowline.

  • The dogs' traces should be of skin and fastened with toggles or buttons to the bowline.

    A Labrador Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • Dave lost no time in tying a bowline in a bight at the two ends of the length of line.

    Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal G. Harvey Ralphson
  • The bowline is a loop that will not slip after the first grip.

  • One of them lowered himself down by a bowline, and handed up poor Pussy in an awful plight.

    The Book of Cats Charles H. Ross
  • Harry had already made a bowline in a bight at the end of a line.

    Boy Scouts in the North Sea G. Harvey Ralphson
British Dictionary definitions for bowline


noun (nautical)
a line for controlling the weather leech of a square sail when a vessel is close-hauled
on a bowline, beating close to the wind
a knot used for securing a loop that will not slip at the end of a piece of rope
Word Origin
C14: probably from Middle Low German bōlīne, equivalent to bow³ + line1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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