[bou-sprit, boh-]
noun Nautical.
a spar projecting from the upper end of the bow of a sailing vessel, for holding the tacks of various jibs or stays and often supporting a jib boom.

1300–50; Middle English bouspret < Middle Low German bōchspret (cognate with Dutch boegsprit) (bōch bow3 + spret pole, cognate with Old English sprēot) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bowsprit (ˈbəʊsprɪt)
nautical a spar projecting from the bow of a vessel, esp a sailing vessel, used to carry the headstay as far forward as possible
[C13: from Middle Low German bōchsprēt, from bōchbow³ + sprēt pole]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"spar extending from the bow of a ship," late 13c., probably from M.L.G. bochspret, from boch "bow of a ship" (see bow (n.2)) + spret "pole" (cf. O.E. spreot "pole," Du. spriet "spear;" see sprit). Fr. beaupre is a Du. loan word.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
At times a sail would have been attached to the large forward pole, or
  bowsprit, at right.
Shielding his eyes from the stinging spray, he studied the incoming waves and
  the bowsprit soaring to meet them.
The bowsprit is rigged with double bobstays of chain and cable, and chain
  bowsprit shrouds.
The jib has a club along its foot and rigged out to the bowsprit.
Image for bowsprit
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