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a. Very accurate with shooting or throwing. n. 1 (context nautical English) A wooden disk having holes through which the lanyard is passed, used for tightening shrouds. 2 A very accurate marksman.

  1. n. a dead shot

  2. (nautical) a round hardwood disk with holes and a grooved perimeter used to tighten a shroud


A deadeye is an item used in the standing and running rigging of traditional sailing ships. It is a smallish round thick wooden (usually lignum vitae) disc with one or more holes through it, perpendicular to the plane of the disc. Single and triple-hole deadeyes are most commonly seen. The three-holed blocks were called deadeyes because the position of the three holes resemble the eye and nose sockets of a sheep's skull.

Single deadeyes (or bull's eyes) are used to guide and control a line and, particularly in older vessels, to change its direction. More modern systems would use a block for this purpose but in traditional rigs with many lines to deal with, designed when blocks were relatively expensive to make, a deadeye provided an acceptable compromise. When blocks came into common use for adjusting running rigging, deadeyes continued to be used for tensioning standing rigging.

Triple deadeyes are used in pairs; a line called a lanyard is run back and forth between them, through the holes, so that they function again much as a block and tackle would. This provides a mechanical advantage, pulling harder on whatever the deadeyes are attached to. Pairs of deadeyes are placed in the shrouds (the lines that hold up the mast), where they are used to create greater tension in the shrouds. To set up the lanyards used with dead-eyes, a suitable grease such as tallow is first applied to the holes. After reeving the lanyard through the deadeyes, the end is hooked to a handy purchase in the rig above, such as the throat halyard. By hauling on the halyard the lanyard in the deadeyes is drawn up taut. A small wooden wedge is knocked into the last hole, to prevent the lanyard sliding back, and the end is unhooked from the purchase and made up on the shroud above the upper deadeye. The wedge can then be removed ready for the next shroud. As an alternative the tackle on the lanyard can be made fast to the shroud well above the upper deadeye so that it compresses the deadeyes. The last part of the lanyard can then be seized to an adjacent part between the deadeyes. When this is finished the tackle is cast off and the lanyard made off.

In recent decades, as steel wire became the prevalent material for sailboat rigging, deadeyes and laynards gave way to metal turnbuckles for tensioning the wires. More recently, however, with the advent of high-strength and low-stretch synthetic fibres, some sailboats are using synthetic rope for standing rigging, and deadeyes and lanyards are coming back into use as tensioning devices.

Usage examples of "deadeye".

When they did intermarry, the off-spring, like Deadeye himself, preferred to keep their parentage quiet.

Coughing, Deadeye handed his papers to the old woman who seemed to be in charge.

After the elves, Deadeye saw, there were three wagons with the mark of a Goblinland winemaker, a toolmaker, and a couple of guys who from their size must be arena fighters.

There seemed to Deadeye to be a wealth of sadness in that simple sentence.

Joshua seemed to have at least a vague idea of what he was doing, and Deadeye had none at all, he followed the human across the street.

Joshua secured for them was smaller than the one Deadeye had lived in at the castle, but private, holding just two narrow beds and a table, and it had a locking door.

Josh could read and write a little, knew some math, and a smattering of history, but Deadeye had actually been to school.

At last, realizing that Deadeye was tensely waiting for him to say something, Josh looked up.

He knew such stories were seldom true, but if he could talk Deadeye into looking .

Even as Deadeye stood blinking at the rich mahogany wall panels, a tall man came out a door so well hidden that Deadeye was hard pressed to find it again and settled himself at the desk.

If this had been one of the periods of frantic activity, Josh would be swarming up the rigging like the monkey Deadeye had once seen at a harvest fair.

Josh stood rock-solid, not even, as far as Deadeye could tell, breathing.

He heard shouts and was dimly aware of Deadeye rushing to help the sailors and castaways over the rail.

Josh pointed to another area of dense vines, almost indistinguishable from the rest until Deadeye made out the barely visible gray of a rock wall behind it.

Looking down at the map he was still holding, Deadeye saw a building marked on it.