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clew

[kloo] /klu/
noun
1.
clue (def 1).
2.
Nautical. either lower corner of a square sail or the after lower corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
3.
a ball or skein of thread, yarn, etc.
4.
Usually, clews. the rigging for a hammock.
5.
Theater. a metal device holding scenery lines controlled by one weighted line.
6.
Classical Mythology. the thread by which Theseus found his way out of the labyrinth.
verb (used with object)
7.
to coil into a ball.
8.
clue (def 3).
9.
Theater.
  1. to draw up the bottom edge of (a curtain, drop, etc.) and fold out of view; bag.
  2. to secure (lines) with a clew.
Verb phrases
10.
clew down, Nautical. to secure (a sail) in an unfurled position.
11.
clew up, Nautical. to haul (the lower corners of a square-rig sail) up to the yard by means of the clew lines.
Idioms
12.
spread a large clew, Nautical.
  1. to carry a large amount of sail.
  2. to present an impressive appearance.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English clewe, Old English cleowen, cliewen, equivalent to cliew- (cognate with Old High German kliu ball) + -en -en5; akin to Dutch kluwen
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for clewing down

clew

/kluː/
noun
1.
a ball of thread, yarn, or twine
2.
(nautical) either of the lower corners of a square sail or the after lower corner of a fore-and-aft sail
3.
(usually pl) the rigging of a hammock
4.
a rare variant of clue
verb
5.
(transitive) to coil or roll into a ball
Word Origin
Old English cliewen (vb); related to Old High German kliu ball
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 clewing down

clew

n.

"ball of thread or yarn," northern English and Scottish relic of Old English cliewen "sphere, ball, skein, ball of thread or yarn," probably from West Germanic *kleuwin (cf. Old Saxon cleuwin, Dutch kluwen), from Proto-Germanic *kliwjo-, from PIE *gleu- "gather into a mass, conglomerate" (see clay).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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