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fife rail

noun, Nautical.
a rail surrounding or next to the mast of a sailing vessel for use in holding the pins to which some of the running rigging is belayed.
Compare pin rail.
Origin of fife rail
1715-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for fife-rail
Historical Examples
  • Above this flood, or knee-deep in it, Mr. Pike and half-a-dozen sailors were bunched on the fife-rail of the mizzen-mast.

  • Half of a fife-rail had been shot through the foresail, and the sky made a patch of glorious blue in the ignobly soiled canvas.

    Youth Joseph Conrad
  • A name applied to the fife-rail pins, also called Tack-pins.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Our strange mate stood against the fife-rail of the mainmast, apparently too intent on the sky and sea for speaking.

  • As the water on the deck subsided the men on the fife-rail left their refuge.

  • Had I remained by the fife-rail three seconds longer than I did, my brains would have been dashed out.

  • In line-of-battle ships it is generally placed on the fife-rail in the centre and foremost part of the poop.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • At the foot of each mast there is a contrivance for securing ropes, called the fife-rail.

    Outward Bound Oliver Optic
  • He found himself unable to stand up; and he reeled to the mainmast, where Professor Stoute was already moored to the fife-rail.

    Dikes and Ditches Oliver Optic
  • Out of the wash, Tony, the Greek, crawled on hands and knees and sank down helplessly at the fife-rail.

British Dictionary definitions for fife-rail

fife rail

(nautical) a rail at the base of a mast of a sailing vessel, fitted with pins for belaying running rigging Compare pin rail
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
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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