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[awr-lok, ohr-] /ˈɔrˌlɒk, ˈoʊr-/
any of various devices providing a pivot for an oar in rowing, especially a swiveling, crutchlike or ringlike metal device projecting above a gunwale.
Also called rowlock.
Origin of oarlock
before 1100; Middle English orlok, Old English ārloc. See oar, lock1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oarlock
Historical Examples
  • The oar, as though pulled by the water, slipped out of the oarlock and floated away entirely unconcerned.

  • Had he heard something, the low groan of an oarlock, the mumble of a voice?

    The Galloping Ghost Roy J. Snell
  • He got up and slapped the oar back into the oarlock and we both rowed hard.

    Swatty Ellis Parker Butler
  • "We were out on the river and broke an oarlock, Mr. Haskers," replied Dave.

    Dave Porter in the South Seas Edward Stratemeyer
  • A faint knock of oarlock was the only sound that disturbed the grave-like stillness.

    Green Eyes Roy J. Snell
  • "Let us row down to Ike Rasmer's boathouse and see if he will sell us an oarlock," suggested Roger.

    Dave Porter in the South Seas Edward Stratemeyer
  • "The three of you may remain here and each write the word 'oarlock' two hundred times," said the second assistant.

    Dave Porter in the South Seas Edward Stratemeyer
  • But in order to row there must be something against which the oar may rest; so the oarlock (Fig. 4) was invented.

    Stories of Useful Inventions Samuel Eagle Foreman
  • All of a sudden Swatty's left oar came out of the oarlock and he nearly fell backwards into the bottom of the boat.

    Swatty Ellis Parker Butler
British Dictionary definitions for oarlock


(US & Canadian) a swivelling device attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds an oar in place and acts as a fulcrum during rowing Also called rowlock
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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Word Origin and History for oarlock

mid-14c., from oar + lock (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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