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oakum

[oh-kuh m] /ˈoʊ kəm/
noun
1.
loose fiber obtained by untwisting and picking apart old ropes, used for caulking the seams of ships.
Origin of oakum
1000
before 1000; Middle English okome, Old English ācuma, variant of ācumba, literally, offcombings, equivalent to ā- separative prefix (see a-3) + -cumba (see comb1)
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for oakum

oakum

/ˈəʊkəm/
noun
1.
loose fibre obtained by unravelling old rope, used esp for caulking seams in wooden ships
Word Origin
Old English ācuma, variant of ācumba, literally: off-combings, from ā- off + -cumba, from cemban to comb
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 oakum
n.

"loose fiber obtained from taking apart old hemp ropes," early 15c., from Old English acumba "tow, oakum, flax fibers separated by combing," literally "what is combed out," from Proto-Germanic *us-kambon (cf. Old High German achambi); first element cognate with Old English a- "away, out, off;" second element from stem of cemban "to comb," from camb "a comb;" from PIE *gembh- "tooth, nail" (see comb (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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11
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