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[bou-sprit, boh-] /ˈbaʊ sprɪt, ˈboʊ-/
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.
Origin of bowsprit
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bowsprit
  • 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.
  • The bowsprit is set up with double chain bobstays and double chain bowsprit shrouds.
  • bowsprit-a larger spar extending from the bow of the sailboat.
  • The squared-off bowsprit has a double chain bobstay and chain bowsprit shrouds.
  • Ship: a generic term for any square-rigged vessel having a bowsprit and three masts.
  • The bowsprit is set up with a double chain bobstay and two bowsprit shrouds as well as its extra wooden flying brace.
  • The first lost her bowsprit, but received little other damage.
British Dictionary definitions for bowsprit


(nautical) a spar projecting from the bow of a vessel, esp a sailing vessel, used to carry the headstay as far forward as possible
Word Origin
C13: from Middle Low German bōchsprēt, from bōchbow³ + sprēt pole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for bowsprit

"spar extending from the bow of a ship," late 13c., probably from Middle Low German bochspret, from boch "bow of a ship" (see bow (n.2)) + spret "pole" (cf. Old English spreot "pole," Dutch spriet "spear;" see sprit). French beaupre is a Dutch loan word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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