[taf-reyl, -ruhl]
noun Nautical.
the upper part of the stern of a ship.
a rail above the stern of a ship.

1805–15; syncopated variant of taffarel; -ai- spelling Dutch -ee-

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World English Dictionary
taffrail (ˈtæfˌreɪl)
1.  a rail at the stern or above the transom of a vessel
2.  the upper part of the transom of a vessel, esp a sailing vessel, often ornately decorated
[C19: changed (through influence of rail1) from earlier tafferel, from Dutch taffereel panel (hence applied to the part of a vessel decorated with carved panels), variant of tafeleel (unattested), from tafeltable]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1814, alteration of tafferel "upper panel on the stern of a ship (often ornamented)" (1704), earlier, "a carved panel" (1622), from Du. tafereel "panel for painting or carving," dissimulation from *tafeleel, dim. of tafel "table," from the general W.Gmc. borrowing of L. tabula "slab, board" (see
table). The word developed in Du. from the custom of ornamenting the high, flat stern of old sailing ships; spelling and sense altered in Eng. by infl. of rail (n.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He eventually grabs hold of the taffrail log and pulls himself aboard the yacht by the line.
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