sheep shank


a kind of knot, hitch, or bend made on a rope to shorten it temporarily.

1635–45; short for sheepshank knot; literal sense unclear Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sheepshank (ˈʃiːpˌʃæŋk)
a knot consisting of two hitches at the ends of a bight made in a rope to shorten it temporarily

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1675, "leg of a sheep," from sheep + shank. Attested earlier in transf. sense of "type of sailor's knot used to shorten a rope without cutting it" (1627).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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