Find the word definition

Crossword clues for clew

The Collaborative International Dictionary

Clew \Clew\ (kl[=u]), Clue \Clue\, n. [OE. clewe, clowe, clue, AS. cleowen, cliwen, clywe ball of thread; akin to D. kluwen, OHG. chliwa, chliuwa, G. dim. kleuel, kn["a]uel, and perch. to L. gluma hull, husk, Skr. glaus sort of ball or tumor. Perch. akin to E. claw. [root]26. Cf. Knawel.]

  1. A ball of thread, yarn, or cord; also, The thread itself.

    Untwisting his deceitful clew.

  2. That which guides or directs one in anything of a doubtful or intricate nature; that which gives a hint in the solution of a mystery.

    The clew, without which it was perilous to enter the vast and intricate maze of countinental politics, was in his hands.

  3. (Naut.) (

    1. ) A lower corner of a square sail, or the after corner of a fore-and-aft sail. (

    2. ) A loop and thimbles at the corner of a sail. (

    3. ) A combination of lines or nettles by which a hammock is suspende

    4. Clew garnet (Naut.), one of the ropes by which the clews of the courses of square-rigged vessels are drawn up to the lower yards.

      Clew line (Naut.), a rope by which a clew of one of the smaller square sails, as topsail, topgallant sail, or royal, is run up to its yard.

      Clew-line block (Naut.), The block through which a clew line reeves. See Illust. of Block.


Clew \Clew\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Clewed p. pr. & vb. n. Clewing.] [Cf. D. kluwenen. See Clew, n.]

  1. To direct; to guide, as by a thread. [Obs.]

    Direct and clew me out the way to happiness.
    --Beau. & Fl.

  2. (Naut.) To move of draw (a sail or yard) by means of the clew garnets, clew lines, etc.; esp. to draw up the clews of a square sail to the yard.

    To clew down (Naut.), to force (a yard) down by hauling on the clew lines.

    To clew up (Naut.), to draw (a sail) up to the yard, as for furling. [1913 Webster] ||

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"ball of thread or yarn," northern English and Scottish relic of Old English cliewen "sphere, ball, skein, ball of thread or yarn," probably from West Germanic *kleuwin (cognates: Old Saxon cleuwin, Dutch kluwen), from Proto-Germanic *kliwjo-, from PIE *gleu- "gather into a mass, conglomerate" (see clay).


n. 1 (context obsolete English) A roughly spherical mass or body. 2 (context archaic English) A ball of thread or yarn. 3 yarn or thread as used to guide one's way through a maze or labyrinth; a guide, a clue. 4 (context nautical English) The lower corner(s) of a sail to which a sheet is attached for trimming the sail (adjusting its position relative to the wind); the metal loop or cringle in the corner of the sail, to which the sheet is attached. On a triangular sail, the '''clew''' is the trailing corner relative to the wind direction. 5 (context in the plural English) The sheets so attached to a sail. 6 (context nautical in the plural English) The cords suspending a hammock. 7 (archaic form of clue English) vb. 1 (context transitive English) to roll into a ball 2 (context nautical English) ''(transitive and intransitive)'' to raise the lower corner(s) of (a sail)

  1. n. a ball of yarn or cord or thread

  2. evidence that helps to solve a problem [syn: clue, cue]


v. roll into a ball [syn: clue]

Usage examples of "clew".

Just as you told me, it relates how the government agents, having tried in vain to get a clew to the smugglers, came to the conclusion that they must be using airships to slip contraband goods over the border at night.

Before an hour had passed, the sails were clewed up and the Bounty dropped anchor in twenty fathoms, off a cove where it seemed that a boat might land and the steep green bluffs be scaled.

Cugel dropped the blue silk mainsail from its brails and sheeted home the clews.

For the benefit of those who know what a buntline on a sail is, I may remark that besides the usual topsail buntlines we had six extra buntlines round the whole sail, so that when it was clewed up it was, so to speak, made fast.

Guided by this clew, it was easy to prove that the grammar and vocabulary of the 3000 Etruscan inscriptions were also Altaic.

Descending to the midship deck, Cugel dropped the blue silk mainsail from its brails and sheeted home the clews.

The breeze was light and visibility good, but the ship proceeded with only two brails of the mainsail clewed down from the yard because the captain believed Erdin was just over the horizon.

Whitford has had time enough to work up his clew, I guess, and Andy will be sure to find out, sooner or later, that we are in the neighborhood.

He was too morbid to be just to any one, even himself, and he felt that she had deserted and turned against him also, forgetting that he had given her no clew to his present place of abode, and had sent a message indicating that he would regard any effort to discover him as officious and intrusive.

Then following the clew that, in the hands of the Abbe Faria, had been so skilfully used to guide him through the Daedalian labyrinth of probabilities, he thought that the Cardinal Spada, anxious not to be watched, had entered the creek, concealed his little barque, followed the line marked by the notches in the rock, and at the end of it had buried his treasure.

The picture of Clew Bay in Mayo by the American tourist they had met and befriended when his wallet had been stolen.

That handkerchief, too, was the only clew to the murderers, and it was such a very vague one that the police were still vainly seeking the culprits, quite lost amid a variety of scents and despairing of success.

Christian and Young stood together on the quarter-deck while the sails were clewed up and furled.

All the courses were clewed up, for these large sails were always a fire risk once the fighting started.

On the morning of the 17th, then, the sails were clewed up, and the Fram began to roll even worse than with the sails set.